A Quick Point

One more quick point on the Iran NIE. There's much less new material here than the media reaction would suggest. In particular, the International Atomic Energy Agency has been making the point that there's no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program for some time. They've just been subject to a lot of derision and getting ignored. In general, the entire framing of the Iranian issue has been centered on people ignoring the difference between a country pursuing a nuclear energy research program that would generate information that would be useful in building a nuclear weapon, and a country pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

When the Bush administration launched Operation Ivy and decided that the issue was Iranian "knowledge," the White House was in effect acknowledging that there was no weapons program on hand to complain about.

At any rate, it seems to have been considered okay to ignore the IAEA's reports on the grounds that the UN is icky or the head of the IAEA is an Arab or both, so maybe now that the US Intelligence Community is saying it too, people will listen.

UPDATE: Okay. On reflection, there is a difference between "no evidence" of a nuclear program and an affirmative conclusion of no nuclear program. My point is just that if last week someone had been going on about "the Iranian nuclear program" and you'd asked that person why he was so sure there even was an Iranian nuclear program, you'd have been dismissed as a fringy DFH, even though the IAEA had been trying to publicize its findings for some time.