Monday, March 02, 2009

Time magazine gets it right on Iran -- almost

It's hard to criticize any article appearing in a mainstream rag like Time that gets across these crucial facts in the face of the ceaseless fear-mongering:
In order to turn its stockpile of low-enriched uranium into bomb fuel, Iran would have to unambiguously declare its intentions by kicking out the inspectors and breaking from the [Nuclear Non-Proliferation] treaty. Only then could it reconfigure its centrifuge cascades and reprocess the material to higher grades of enrichment, which would likely take a number of months. And the single very crude, very large nuclear device that would result — too large to be delivered by missile or by fighter aircraft — would not constitute a credible strategic nuclear capability.
However, the same article gets this critical aspect of the story very wrong:
Last month, Obama mentioned Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon" at a news conference before later correcting himself to specify that he was referring to Iran's pursuit of the "capability" to produce such a weapon. That's in line with the assessment offered by his director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, in a Feb. 9 briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee: "Although we do not know whether Iran currently intends to develop nuclear weapons, we assess Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop them."
At no time in the February 9th news conference to which the Time article refers does the word "capability" appear. Obama's "correction", if it can be called that, was to refer to Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon." The fact that Obama didn't even hedge his statement with the misleading qualifier "capability", while his Director of National Intelligence states Iran ended any such nuclear weapons program more than five years ago, is a telling example of the new administration distorting intelligence with as brazenly as the last one.

That the administration's top foreign policy officials -- the president and the secretary of state -- are casually and regularly distorting the intelligence on Iran's nuclear program is a big deal. Someone ought to call them on it.

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