What Caused the NIE Reversal on Iran's Nuclear Program?

The recently-released National intelligence Estimate (NIE) has come in for a round of criticism for its finding that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This criticism spans the political spectrum. The political left and "doves" have found fault with it, as have Republican senators, who have urged a Congressional Panel be created to review the findings of the NIE. Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton outlined a case "against" the NIE, as has Alan Dershowitz.

Our European allies expressed dismay at the findings and even the Iran-friendly International Atomic Energy Agency expressed discomfort with the tone of the NIE.
"To be frank, we are more skeptical," a senior official close to the agency told the New York Times this week. "We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran."
When all these parties can agree on any topic whatsoever there are certainly grounds for curiosity. The NIE conclusions deserve scrutiny. Unfortunately, this analysis has been hampered by the intelligence community's desire to keep their methodology hidden from public view under the pretext that disclosure of their sources of intelligence might imperil them. However, Washington being Washington and the media being the media, bits and pieces of the "logic" behind these findings are coming into the light.

These disclosures should give one pause when it comes to relying on the National Intelligence Estimate in judging the intentions and capabilities of the Iranian regime when it comes to their nuclear weapons program.

One revelation published in Saturday's Washington Post
indicated that our intelligence community relied, in part, on the word of Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani -- long time power broker in Iran and a man marked by his extremism, corruption,  intimate involvement in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards terror network and one of the men who has the most vested interest in furthering the Iranian nuclear program. He is also one of the wealthiest men in Iran with a compelling desire to avoid a sanctions regime that would directly harm his family's business empire.

...during a dinner in Tehran with visiting American experts in 2005, Iranian leaders Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hassan Rowhani flatly declared that the country's nuclear weapons research had been halted because Iran felt it did not need the actual bombs, only the ability to show the world it could.
If former Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani says it is so, it must be so? How is that intelligence?

Let's not forget his famous words, spoken when he was Chairman of the Assembly to Discern the Interests of the State (the number two man after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenehi):

Rafsanjani said that Muslims must surround colonialism and force them [the colonialists] to see whether Israel is beneficial to them or not. If one day, he said, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel's possession [meaning nuclear weapons] - on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This, he said, is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.
At one time Forbes magazine listed Rafsanjani as one of the richest men in the world  ). He has erected a web of companies intricately entwined with the Iranian economy . As Forbes wrote:

Ironically, the man most adept at manipulating this hidden power structure is one of Iran's best-known characters--Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been named an ayatollah, or religious leader. He was the speaker of parliament and Khomeini's right-hand man in the 1980s, president of Iran from 1989 to 1997 and is now chairman of the powerful Expediency Council.... Rafsanjani has more or less run the Islamic Republic for the past 24 years. [....]

A hard-liner ideologically, Rafsanjani nonetheless has a pragmatic streak. He convinced Khomeini to end the Iran-Iraq war and broke Iran's international isolation by establishing trade relations with the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the 1990s he restarted Iran's nuclear program. He is also the father of Iran's "privatization" program. During his presidency the stock market was revived, some government companies were sold to insiders, foreign trade was liberalized and the oil sector was opened up to private companies. Most of the good properties and contracts, say dissident members of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, ended up in the hands of mullahs, their associates and, not least, Rafsanjani's own family, who rose from modest origins as small-scale pistachio farmers.

Little criticism of Rafsanjani makes it into print in Iran, for understandable reasons. Yet according to Forbes, there is plenty of gossip about Rasfanjani stashing away billions of dollars in offshore bank accounts. Some family wealth is visible, for example his brother's 30 horse farm acre estate in a fashionable Tehran neighborhood where land goes for $4 million an acre. But the widespread assumption is that much more is invisible, and some of that is already overseas.
He has stocked his conglomerate with family members. He is a wheeler-dealer with business connections throughout Europe   He would be among the people most harmed by sanctions.

Is it beyond the realm of comprehension to assume such a man would lie, prevaricate and mislead the West in order to halt current sanctions and eliminate the prospects of even harsher sanctions being imposed? Rafsanjani is the "true father" of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program and would be loath to see it fail to come to fruition.

The Iranian regime has bean caught lying (even the Iran-friendly International Atomic Energy Agency has criticized the Iranians for lying) about their nuclear program. Furthermore, the Shiite-created doctrines of "taqiiya" (deception) and kitman (dissembling) explicitly permit Muslims to lie to non-Muslims if such lying furthers Islamic interests.

Nevertheless, our intelligence community (knowm for a series of high profile of intelligence failures over the years) now relies on the words of Rafsnajani, who once boasted of the desirability and feasibility of destroying Israel. George Orwell would be amused.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
The recently-released National intelligence Estimate (NIE) has come in for a round of criticism for its finding that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This criticism spans the political spectrum. The political left and "doves" have found fault with it, as have Republican senators, who have urged a Congressional Panel be created to review the findings of the NIE. Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton outlined a case "against" the NIE, as has Alan Dershowitz.

Our European allies expressed dismay at the findings and even the Iran-friendly International Atomic Energy Agency expressed discomfort with the tone of the NIE.
"To be frank, we are more skeptical," a senior official close to the agency told the New York Times this week. "We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran."
When all these parties can agree on any topic whatsoever there are certainly grounds for curiosity. The NIE conclusions deserve scrutiny. Unfortunately, this analysis has been hampered by the intelligence community's desire to keep their methodology hidden from public view under the pretext that disclosure of their sources of intelligence might imperil them. However, Washington being Washington and the media being the media, bits and pieces of the "logic" behind these findings are coming into the light.

These disclosures should give one pause when it comes to relying on the National Intelligence Estimate in judging the intentions and capabilities of the Iranian regime when it comes to their nuclear weapons program.

One revelation published in Saturday's Washington Post
indicated that our intelligence community relied, in part, on the word of Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani -- long time power broker in Iran and a man marked by his extremism, corruption,  intimate involvement in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards terror network and one of the men who has the most vested interest in furthering the Iranian nuclear program. He is also one of the wealthiest men in Iran with a compelling desire to avoid a sanctions regime that would directly harm his family's business empire.

...during a dinner in Tehran with visiting American experts in 2005, Iranian leaders Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hassan Rowhani flatly declared that the country's nuclear weapons research had been halted because Iran felt it did not need the actual bombs, only the ability to show the world it could.
If former Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani says it is so, it must be so? How is that intelligence?

Let's not forget his famous words, spoken when he was Chairman of the Assembly to Discern the Interests of the State (the number two man after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenehi):

Rafsanjani said that Muslims must surround colonialism and force them [the colonialists] to see whether Israel is beneficial to them or not. If one day, he said, the world of Islam comes to possess the weapons currently in Israel's possession [meaning nuclear weapons] - on that day this method of global arrogance would come to a dead end. This, he said, is because the use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.
At one time Forbes magazine listed Rafsanjani as one of the richest men in the world  ). He has erected a web of companies intricately entwined with the Iranian economy . As Forbes wrote:

Ironically, the man most adept at manipulating this hidden power structure is one of Iran's best-known characters--Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been named an ayatollah, or religious leader. He was the speaker of parliament and Khomeini's right-hand man in the 1980s, president of Iran from 1989 to 1997 and is now chairman of the powerful Expediency Council.... Rafsanjani has more or less run the Islamic Republic for the past 24 years. [....]

A hard-liner ideologically, Rafsanjani nonetheless has a pragmatic streak. He convinced Khomeini to end the Iran-Iraq war and broke Iran's international isolation by establishing trade relations with the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the 1990s he restarted Iran's nuclear program. He is also the father of Iran's "privatization" program. During his presidency the stock market was revived, some government companies were sold to insiders, foreign trade was liberalized and the oil sector was opened up to private companies. Most of the good properties and contracts, say dissident members of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, ended up in the hands of mullahs, their associates and, not least, Rafsanjani's own family, who rose from modest origins as small-scale pistachio farmers.

Little criticism of Rafsanjani makes it into print in Iran, for understandable reasons. Yet according to Forbes, there is plenty of gossip about Rasfanjani stashing away billions of dollars in offshore bank accounts. Some family wealth is visible, for example his brother's 30 horse farm acre estate in a fashionable Tehran neighborhood where land goes for $4 million an acre. But the widespread assumption is that much more is invisible, and some of that is already overseas.
He has stocked his conglomerate with family members. He is a wheeler-dealer with business connections throughout Europe   He would be among the people most harmed by sanctions.

Is it beyond the realm of comprehension to assume such a man would lie, prevaricate and mislead the West in order to halt current sanctions and eliminate the prospects of even harsher sanctions being imposed? Rafsanjani is the "true father" of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program and would be loath to see it fail to come to fruition.

The Iranian regime has bean caught lying (even the Iran-friendly International Atomic Energy Agency has criticized the Iranians for lying) about their nuclear program. Furthermore, the Shiite-created doctrines of "taqiiya" (deception) and kitman (dissembling) explicitly permit Muslims to lie to non-Muslims if such lying furthers Islamic interests.

Nevertheless, our intelligence community (knowm for a series of high profile of intelligence failures over the years) now relies on the words of Rafsnajani, who once boasted of the desirability and feasibility of destroying Israel. George Orwell would be amused.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.