Analysis of a Report

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi

US National Intelligence Council has released its 132-page biennial report, which is known as National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). Nine pages of that report pertained to Iran which has been presented to the White House, US Congress, National Security Council and other related American institutions. Thus far, a three-page unclassified summary of Iran report has been released. An important goal is to find some answers for a number of questions. What does the report say? Why the report has been issued three weeks ahead of the United Nations Security Council meeting which is to focus on Iran nuclear dossier? How we should assess and judge the report? How we should deal with that report?

NIE is a collection of 16 intelligence agencies of the United States. Its chairman, who is currently Admiral McConnell, is appointed by the American president, but according to its articles of association, the Council should present its reports on the latest intelligent findings both inside and outside the United States to the president, Congress, Senate, and other state policymakers. The report does not suffice to analyzing the US Intelligence Community, but also avails of all capacities of military, academic, as well as research bodies and forwards a draft of its report to top authorities in concerned institutions. Then it collects their viewpoints and prepares the final report to be presented to policymakers and decision-makers without proposing any specific strategy or policy. The report has various legal, political, intelligence and publicity dimensions, which has reached its key judgments through a cautious method in three low-, medium- and high-confidence categories.

The report aims to assess the current situation of Iran’s nuclear program, Iran’s tendencies, effects of domestic and foreign factors, as well as those factors that determine cessation or continuation of a nuclear arms program. The report has pointed to strategic goals of the leadership of the Islamic Revolution, which have remained unchanged after demise of Imam Khomeini. The most important judgment of the report is that Iran has stopped its nuclear arms program in fall 2003. Analysts maintain that by Iran nuclear program, NIE means nuclear, military as well as secret programs to enrich uranium not merely official programs that have been announced by Iranian officials. Mounting international pressures have been mentioned as the most important reason. They have assumed that Iran has imported quantities of fissile material for military use before 2003, but it has not been sufficient for production of nuclear arms. Other points were absence of sufficient information to show whether Iran would continue the halt on its weapons program in the future and serious emphasis on existence of such program before fall 2003.

Positive points of the report:

  1. Reducing possibility of military confrontation between Iran and the United States
  2. Undermining the position of pro-war politicians
  3. Deepening the gap between conservatives, neoconservatives and democrats over Iran nuclear program
  4. Worsening differences among US presidential candidates about Iran nuclear program
  5. Convincing the public opinion in the United States and West to oppose performance of the American policymakers with regard to military threats
  6. Reviewing performance of strategic thinking and analysis centers in the United States with regard to Iran nuclear program
  7. Deepening international differences
  8. Reducing the chance of serious sanctions in the upcoming resolution of the United Nations Security Council.

Negative consequences of the report:

  1. Emphasis put on Iran’s plan to produce nuclear weapons before 2003
  2. Iran’s intention to develop its own military nuclear knowledge
  3. Considering Iran’s nuclear knowledge to be limited
  4. Emphasis on the effect of international pressures on changing Iran’s behavior
  5. Emphasis on suspension of uranium enrichment and fuel cycle
  6. Judging Iran’s nuclear programs to have sought military goals before 2003
  7. Difference between this report and that of International Atomic Energy Agency director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, who has officially announced that there has been no diversion in Iran’s nuclear program. NIE has practically refuted ElBaradei’s report.
  8. ElBaradei claims that Iran should cooperate more with IAEA and give objective assurances about future suspension of its enrichment activities while NIE maintains that Iran has had a nuclear arms program in the past and has noted that the future could be more dangerous;
  9. Emphasis put on uranium enrichment, militarization of the Iranian nuclear program and emphasis put on long-range missiles;
  10. Judgment about possible entry of fissile material into Iran;
  11. Emphasizing that Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame though it has also judged that Iran is unlikely to achieve this capability before 2013 because of foreseeable technical and programmatic problems.

The important point about the report is that they claim the report is not based on facts, but on available information obtained from various sources. Therefore, they may change their subject in the near future claiming that they have come across new information. In the history of the United States, such reports have never been translated into official policies. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected the report. There is so much contradiction between the report and policies adopted by the United States. Of course, it has both positive and negative points, but it challenges policies adopted by the European countries and the United States. It will especially lead to escalation of pressures on President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The Israeli lobby is trying to turn the atmosphere against Iran in Washington and Olmert has noted that the Israeli information community thinks differently from its American counterpart. Therefore, frequency of news, quality of information as well as its sources are important from viewpoint of methodology. Illegal pressures by the United States after 2003 to take Iran nuclear case to the Security Council can be legally analyzed and refuted and they can be asked why Iran case has been sent to the Security Council based on erroneous data? The important thing for the Islamic Republic of Iran is the fact that the Iranian nation has been able through steadfastness and cooperation with international agencies to present its powerful logic to the world and prove rightfulness of its claim that military goals have no place in its nuclear program. Any achievement in the Iranian foreign policy would be a gift to the whole nation and all political parties. However, the important thing is to have good knowledge about the report and avoid hasty reactions. Having an intuitive, cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency, unconditional negotiations with European Union and 5+1 as well as cooperation with regional countries can lead to lasting agreements. The Islamic Republic of Iran should now highlight the risk of nuclear arsenals of Israel, Pakistan and India and emphasize on the need to foster regional and international cooperation to establish a Middle East free from nuclear weapons because security of the whole region hinges on this point.

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