World News and Trends: Nuclear weapons in Iran?

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Nuclear weapons in Iran?

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A Dec. 4 American intelligence report reversed previous findings and concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This new assessment likely decreases the odds of a U.S. military attack on Iran to near zero—which may have been its unstated political purpose.

President Bush has reacted to the report by saying, " Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon" (The Independent, Dec. 5, 2007).

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, stated: "As we all know, intelligence estimates can be wrong in multiple directions . . . You have to look at the strategic position that Iran has been pursuing for close to 20 years now, which is that they want a nuclear weapons capability" (The Sunday Times, Dec. 2, 2007).

Wrote Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal: "Let's assume for argument's sake that Iran did stop its nuke program in 2003. Why, then, in 2006 was Iran performing test flights of the Shabab-2 and Shabab-3 ballistic missiles, the latter with a range of some 1,200 miles?" (Dec. 6. 2007).

Several prominent Israeli leaders differed sharply with the new intelligence report. The British have also challenged it.

According to a Time snapshot article in August of last year, the American administration had stated its intention of sending massive amounts of military hardware to selected Middle Eastern nations to contain the Iranian threat and for other security reasons. "The onslaught of prospective weapons deals is part of a new Bush Administration initiative to contain Iran—and underscore America's long-term involvement in the Middle East" (Aug. 13, 2007).

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