Until recently, Iran was judged, according to February testimony by Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, to be within five years of the capability to make a nuclear weapon. Since 1995, U.S. officials have continually estimated Iran to be “within five years” from reaching that same capability. So far, it has not.
The new estimate extends the timeline, judging that Iran will be unlikely to produce a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient for an atomic weapon, before “early to mid-next decade,” according to four sources familiar with that finding. The sources said the shift, based on a better understanding of Iran’s technical limitations, puts the timeline closer to 2015 and in line with recently revised British and Israeli figures.
So in only the past decade our official estimates on Iran’s nuclear capabilities have moved from 2000 to 2015. That’s a real confidence builder in our official estimates, isn’t it?
Expect the Michael Ledeen crowd to be furious over this. The CIA’s report concedes that “left to its own devices, Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons,” but that won’t be enough to save them from the wrath of the mega-hawk crowd, which is still desperately trying to salvage its reputation after being proved wrong in virtually all particulars about Iraq. Expect a coordinated nuclear attack directed toward the softies at the CIA soon.