An Inopportune Moment to Launch the New Seymour Hersh Piece

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Sy Hersh has a new piece out (no link available) arguing that there is no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons. Politico reports that the White House is "pushing back strongly, with one senior official saying the article garnered 'a collective eye roll'" inside the Administration.

In "Iran and the Bomb," from the issue dated June 6, Hersh adds up what's known about the Iranian nuclear program and concludes that the Obama administration is overstating the threat coming from Tehran, just as the Bush administration did nearly a decade ago when sizing up Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

It is fairly obvious to all of us who believed that Saddam maintained an active WMD program up until the U.S. invasion in 2003 that our beliefs about Iran's nuclear intentions should be constantly tested and red-teamed, to the point of exhaustion. But one problem with Hersh's thesis is that it comes just as the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a report detailing what it understands to be an effort by Iran to build an atomic trigger:

The nine-page report raised questions about whether Iran has sought to investigate seven different kinds of technology ranging from atomic triggers and detonators to uranium fuel. Together, the technologies could make a type of atom bomb known as an implosion device, which is what senior staff members of the I.A.E.A. have warned that Iran is able to build.

The IAEA, of course, is not considered a den of neoconservatives. Nor, for that matter, is the Obama Administration. It's an interesting turn of events: Sy Hersh is accusing an American administration of exaggerating the threat posed by a Middle Eastern adversary, but this time the Administration is led by a man who himself was skeptical about the threat posed by Iraq, and who therefore has some credibility when he asserts, as he has, that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/an-inopportune-moment-to-launch-the-new-seymour-hersh-piece/239680/