Interview: U.S. Intelligence Report Challenges Bush Confrontational Iran Policy (audio)

[Between The Lines, Week Ending Dec. 14, 2007] After months of ratcheting up hostile rhetoric against Iran, with the implicit threat of military action, President Bush’s repeated assertion that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons hit a brick wall. On Dec. 3, 16 U.S. intelligence agencies released a National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, that found with high confidence that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003 and the program remains frozen.
    While the new intelligence report states the U.S. does not know Iran’s long-term intentions toward the production of nuclear weapons, the declassified paper contradicts a 2005 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that Iran was determined to develop nuclear arms. Responding to the report that directly challenges his aggressive approach to Iran, President Bush maintained his position that all options are on the table for dealing with Tehran — and added that the Islamic nation continues to be a danger if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley stated that the U.S. will continue to pursue sanctions against Iran. Iran has long maintained that its current effort to enrich uranium is designed solely for its civilian nuclear power program.
    Between The Lines Scott Harris spoke with Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and author of the book, “Tinder Box: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism.” He assesses the political fallout resulting from the new intelligence report and whether the NIE’s conclusions about Iran’s nuclear program will reduce the possibility of a U.S. military strike against Tehran. [Download & Between the Lines]