A recently released intelligent assessment on Iran’s nuclear weapons program concludes that it was halted in 2003, the New York Times reports:
“The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy. The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies, states that Tehran is likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies ‘do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.'”
The video above, via AmericaBlog, shows Bush warning the media about the prospects of World War III should Iran acquire the ability to develop nuclear weapons. Problem is, that press conference was held months after Bush had already been told of the NIE report referenced above.
Here are a few responses from Democratic leaders.
Today at a press conference, Bush backtracked on the World War III comments, saying “nobody ever told me” to back down with the rhetoric, and denied that he had details of the report.
Said Bush: “I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was John — Mike McConnell came in and said, We have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was. He did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze.”
Writes Think Progress: “Yesterday, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said, ‘when the President was told that we had some additional information, he was basically told: stand down; needs to be evaluated; we’ll come to you and tell you what we think it means.’ Later in the briefing, Hadley reversed course and said, ‘In terms of stand down, they did not tell the President to stand down and stop talking about Iran’s nuclear program.’ White House officials are obfuscating on what they knew and when they knew it because the answer has the potential of further damaging the credibility of what they have asserted about Iran in the past few months.”
Bush said there would be no change in the U.S. policy toward Iran as a result of the report.
U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work [nyt]
An Assessment Jars a Foreign Policy Debate About Iran [nyt]
A Blow to Bush’s Tehran Policy [washington post]
Bush: DNI Told Me ‘We Have Some New Information, He Didn’t Tell Me What The Information Was’ [think progress]
Mainstream media gives Bush a pass on Iran lie, they’re all one big happy club [americablog]