Matt's Rhetorical Question

You can say that again:

How outrageous is it that the best twelve months of alarmism from Bush & Cheney have come in the context of an environment where they've long had access to the intelligence community's assessment? Answer: Very outrageous.

Fred Kaplan notes, however:

President Bush and the administration's hawkish faction, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, can take some solace from the new intelligence estimate.

For instance, the NIE states, again "with high confidence," that until the fall of 2003, the Iranians were developing nuclear weapons. It also notes that they are continuing civilian work "related to uranium conversion and enrichment." Most significant, perhaps, it concludes that the Iranians halted their weapons program "primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran's previously undeclared nuclear work."

But one implication of this last assessment is that Iran's leaders are not so hermeticthat, as the NIE puts it, "Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issues than we judged previously." The Bush administration's campaign of pressurethe smart sanctions that it imposed and rallied other nations to joinappears to have had an effect. By the same token, inducements might spur further progress.