THE PLANK SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
As Mike points out, the uranium enrichment facility at Qom is not, apparently, intended to produce fuel for a civilian power reactor. Besides which, Iran’s covert construction of the facility is decidedly suspicious. However, via Laura Rozen, I see that a Q&A with the Intelligence Community, put out by the White House, contains this exchange:
Does this mean that the IC’s judgments in the 2007 NIE were wrong?
• No, in and of itself the information on this facility does not contradict our 2007 assessment of Iran’s nuclear program.
Does the IC still judge that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program?
• Yes, we still assess that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. We obtain new information all the time and are constantly reassessing Iran’s nuclear program.
Update: After rereading the whole Q&A, I’m somewhat surprised by the degree of specificity it contains—the number of centrifuges, the progression of the infrastructure-building at the site, the fact that a civilian agency is operating the facility despite its location on a military base. Given that they’ve clearly been amassing intelligence for some time, perhaps the Obama team was preparing for some sort of Adlai Stevenson moment after negotiations had begun, before Tehran forced a public discussion by sending its letter announcing a “pilot plant” to the IAEA on Monday. Pure speculation, of course.