The NIE Report: Solving a Geopolitical Problem with Iran

By George Friedman – Stratfor – Strategic Forecasting, Inc.

The United States released a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Dec. 3. It said, “We judge with high confidence that in the fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons rpogram.” It went on to say, “Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.” It further said, “Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”

With this announcement, the dynamics of the Middle Eastern region, Iraq and U.S.-Iranian relations shift dramatically. For one thing, the probability of a unilateral strike against Iranian nuclear targets is gone. Since there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program, there is no rationale for a strike.

Moreover, if Iran is not engaged in weapons production, then a broader air campaign designed to destabilize the Iranian regime has no foundation either.

The NIE release represents a transformation of U.S. policy toward Iran. The Bush administration made Iran’s nuclear weapons program the main reason for its attempt to create an international coalition against Iran, on the premise that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable. If there is no Iranian nuclear program, then what is the rationale for the coalition? Moreover, what is the logic of resisting Iran’s efforts in Iraq, rather than cooperating?

[..] As we have argued, the central issue for Iran is not nuclear weapons. It is the future of Iraq. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 was the defining moment in modern Iranian history. It not only devastated Iran, but also weakened the revolution internally. Above all, Tehran never wants to face another Iraqi regime that has the means and motivation to wage war against Iran. That means the Iranians cannot tolerate a Sunni-dominated government that is heavily armed and backed by the United States. Nor, for that matter, does Tehran completely trust Iraq’s fractured Shiite bloc with Iran’s national security. Iran wants to play a critical role in defining the nature, policies and capabilities of the Iraqi regime.

The recent U.S. successes in Iraq, however limited and transitory they might be, may have caused the Iranians to rethink their view on dealing with the Americans on Iraq. The Americans, regardless of progress, cannot easily suppress all of the Shiite militias. The Iranians cannot impose a regime on Iraq, though they can destabilize the process. A successful outcome requires a degree of cooperation — and recent indications suggest that Iran is prepared to provide that cooperation.

That puts the United States in an incredibly difficult position. On the one hand, it needs Iran for the endgame in Iraq. On the other, negotiating with Iran while it is developing nuclear weapons runs counter to fundamental U.S. policies and the coalition it was trying to construct. As long as Iran was building nuclear weapons, working with Iran on Iraq was impossible.

The NIE solves a geopolitical problem for the United States. Washington
cannot impose a unilateral settlement on Iraq, nor can it sustain forever the level of military commitment it has made to Iraq. There are other fires starting to burn around the world. At the same time, Washington cannot work with Tehran while it is building nuclear weapons. Hence, the NIE: While Iran does have a nuclear power program, it is not building nuclear weapons.

December 4, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. This article assumes that Tehran is primarily interested in self defence, when, in fact, their ultimate desire is to detroy Israel and create the chaos that will usher in the Mahdi, the Islamic savior.

    I think it a huge mistake for Bush to change the doctrine of ‘your are either for us or against us in the fight against terrorism’; certainly Iran is square in the terrorist camp, with what they are doing in Iraq, and afganistan (proven to have smuggled in weapons that are killing US soldiers) and support for terroists in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.

    Part of the equation for not attacking Iran is the advent of new antimissle shields… Iwould much rather attack Iran and build the shield than just rely on the shield.

    As our intellignece estimates have since the Clinton years and been anything but intelligent, it is foolish to trust our intelligence and the Iranians statements; foolish because our intelligence only knows what it knows as moderately credible…it does not know what it does not know and there is the high likely hood that the Iranians have manufacturing and research that we don not know about and foolish because Iran has repeated proved itself to be lying on these critical issues.

    Finally, according to various internet sources which have shown themselves to be fairly accurate, Israel has
    been showing the USA good intelligence on Iran that shows that Iran has in fact restarted the weapons program. Besides, there are other ways to get the missiles to transport the warheads…import from N. Korea, Pakistan, or other “Stans” in north central Asia.

    THe bottom line is Israel and Bush are blindly following the State Dept on their “feed the monster and perhaps he will be too full to think about fighting” agenda. THe truth is it just buys time for the terroists to gain strength, increasing their odds of success. There should be no negotiations until terrorists, including Iran, Hamas, PA, and Hizbollah initiate peace, just as the US pursued war in WW2 until the ememy sought peace.

  2. And thus as many of us has said the US regime and state apparatus is central now and is going to be ever more so in the next Holocaust of the Jews, which may well dwarf the Nazi Holocaust and before the Roman Holocausts.

    Expect now the Chinese Stalinists to block any move to defend Jews agaist Holocaust.

    So US Imperialism and Stalinism work together as they always have. Note their cooperation in the assasinaion of greatest socialist revolutionary ever..Leon Trotsky

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