No Evidence of Iranian Weapons Program, Despite Rhetoric

Seymour Hersh reports in the latest issue of The New Yorker that “despite years of covert operations inside Iran, extensive satellite imagery, and the recruitment of Iranian intelligence assets, the United States and its allies, including Israel, have been unable to find irrefutable evidence of an ongoing hidden nuclear-weapons program in Iran.” The piece is not available for free yet, but you can find an abstract here. I’ve read it in its entirety.

Hersh cites an update of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and added, “We do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.” Hersh:

A government consultant who has read the highly classified 2011 N.I.E. update depicted the report as reinforcing the essential conclusion of the 2007 paper: Iran halted weaponization in 2003. “There’s more evidence to support that assessment,” the consultant told me.

The views of the I.A.E.A. are more suspicious, but despite some disputes between the agency and Iran, a very tight surveillance has been kept on Iran through the agency, complete with frequent inspections and 24-hour video surveillance inside nuclear facilities.

Despite obedient media lapdogs trying to refute Hersh’s report, claims of a current weapons program or of an intention to begin one remain unsubstantiated. “The guys working on this are good analysts,” Hersh was told by an intelligence analyst, “and their bosses are backing them up.” Hawkish cries to the contrary are understandable, as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told Hersh, they knew the 2011 update to the N.I.E would be politically explosive: “If Iran is not a nuclear threat, the Israelis have no reason to threaten imminent military action.” This is an unwelcome potentiality in Washington.

Here is an interesting excerpt regarding intelligence efforts to determine the nature of Iran’s nuclear activities:

The N.I.E makes clear that U.S. intelligence has been unable to find decisive evidence that Iran has been moving enriched uranium to an underground weapon-making center. In the past six years, soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Force, working with Iranian intelligence assets, put in place cutting-edge surveillance techniques, according to two former intelligence officers. Street signs were surreptitiously removed in heavily populated areas of Tehran – say, near a university suspected of conducting nuclear enrichment – and replaced with similar-looking sings implanted with radiation sensors. American operatives, working undercover, also removed bricks from a building or two in central Tehran that they thought housed nuclear enrichment activities and replaced them with bricks embedded with radiation-monitoring devices.

High-powered sensors disguised as stones were spread randomly along roadways in a mountainous area where a suspected underground weapon site was under construction. The stones were capable of transmitting electronic data on the weight of the vehicles going in and out of the site; a truck going in light and coming out heavy could be hauling dirt – crucial evidence of evacuation work. There is also constant satellite coverage of major suspect areas in Iran and some American analysts were assigned the difficult task of examining footage in the hope of finding air vents – signs, perhaps, of an underground facility in lightly populated areas.

The administration and Congress have systematically mischaracterized what U.S. intelligence knows about Iran’s nuclear program, consistently claiming a current weaponization program is underway or that an intention to conduct one is essentially confirmed.

Hersh’s report also talks about the possibility that the Obama administration’s push for sanctions is actually aimed “at changing Iran’s political behavior” as opposed to preventing nuclear proliferation. This seems likely to me. The fact that Iran is not a subservient client state who we pay to obey, like most of the rest of the states in the region, represents a threat to American hegemonic dominance. And they’re unlikely to stand for it.

Also unlikely is the notion that Iran would ever intend to use a nuclear weapon on the U.S. or any of its allies in the Middle East or Europe. There is no evidence that the Iranian leadership yearns for the near-instant incineration of their entire country that would surely be an immediate response of the U.S. if Iran were to do such a thing. If Iran does intend to develop a nuclear weapons program, it’s because they would then be in a position where the U.S. and Israel could not push them around on the international stage. The secret war the U.S. is currently unleashing on Iran – from cyber-attacks to economic warfare to destabilizing covert operations – would be much less likely to continue if Iran had the ability to defend itself.

Yet, U.S. leadership continues to condemn Iran about nuclear enrichment and proliferation, about its support for terrorists, and about its aggressive and threatening rhetoric (all offenses the U.S. continuously engages in as official policy). Unless a more realistic and sober understanding of Iran becomes broadly accepted, we are doomed to rising tensions and a potential repeat of the Iraq War debacle.

  • Hacklheber

    "A potential repeat of the Iraq War debacle."

    Not a repeat.

    Not a repeat at all…

  • John_Muhammad

    Okay, so we have proof that US covert operations have been underway in Iran for the specific purpose of spying on their nuclear capabilities or lack thereof – if any of our spies is ever caught, what will our defense of their actions be? If an Iranian were caught in the US spying on nuclear facilities, you can bet the howls for his blood would be deafening- why should we expect anything less from Iran regarding our own actions in their country? Since we also know that the US operators are soldiers serving in the JSOF, what's to prevent Iran from 'detaining them indefinitely without access to counsel' and then tried before an Iranian military tribunal?

    Oh, it would be sweet irony if Iran set up a special military court using the exact same set of rules as our own at Gitmo. I would hate to see any Americans held under such circumstances, but the mere existence of such a court would be a stick in Obama's eye. How could we possibly criticize such a tribunal system without condemning our own?

    • MoT

      Condemning our own? Now now, John. You know as well as I that they'd simply scream like rabid monkeys all the louder and misdirect the media saturated morons. It's worked and is working right now. I would have to admit that it would be sweet to have such rats stewing in their own juices if only for the ironic joy. That's why I was wishing Davis were tried before the world in Pakistan before he slithered out on a carpet of stolen tax dollars.

  • RadGuy

    Be aware that uranium enrichment to anything less than 98%-99% *can not be used as a bomb* but enriched uranium to *lower purity* (10%-30%) is required for medical and industrial radioisotope reactors.

  • walshtrhee

    If Iran had a few nuclear weapons, why could it not still be pushed around by the US? Using such after having been attacked would still risk incineration of the entire country by infinitely superior nuclear forces.

    • andy

      Unlikely. America like all bullies can dish it out. But it can't take it. The certain knowledge just one nuke would hit us would make the bully boys in DC back off.

  • Never use the NIE report for anything! NIE reports are a politcal tool and can be customized to prove anything which they often are. The fact is It DOES NOT MATTER IF IRAN HAS A NUCLEAR BOMB. IRAN HAS NOT ATTACKED ANYONE IN 200 YEARS. ALL WE HAVE DONE IS ATTACK OTHER NATIONS FOR 200 YEARS. WE USED THE A-BOMBS ON CIVILIANS FIRST. If we attack Iran it will be because of Israel not because Iran has a nuclear bomb. Frankly I would heartily recomend that Iran gets a nuclear bomb as quick as they can because we attack nations who do not have them, just ask Gaddafy.

  • sherban

    But the reality doesn't matter.Although in 2007 and now again,NIE declared that Iran has not a nuclear military program Ahmadenijad is viewed as Hitler,Iran people is terrorized by a new round of sanctions and and after it an other one and all this total injustice is lead by Israel,a country which nuclear arsenal which imposed a total silence about her nuclear weapon such that she receives weapon from US breaching NPT treat which forbids that a non signatory state of NPT could get weapon for an other which is a signatory.So has this a bid of logic?But the logic doesn't matter:Iran remains a fanatic Muslim country which threat the "rational "Western civilizations including Israel ,how a slogan says:"if Israel falls,all of us will fall",and that because they hate our "freedom,democracy,rational style of life".Of course freedom doesn't exist where lies which lied to war prevail.Thus was with Iraq,Afghanistan,Gaza massacre,Lebanon invasion etc.Freedom can't match a system which feed the population with lies and manipulation.

    • beamer

      You must be an israeli cause you certainly sound like one – And I have worked with jews and israelis for years and know how they 'operate'- You want to get a free ride off the USA like you always have- You use the USA by covert compromising our politicians- How many innocent ppl has the Iranian regie killed and than tell e how any Israel has…you will see the scale of israeli hitlerism in the name of self defence overwhelming- The only crime if you can call it that is that tehran politicians speak violence…Israel carries it out day in day out…killng innocent palestinians whose land is stolen by the very 'guests' they alowed to stay on their land- I agree not only should israel return the land stolen from palestinians but also they should be expelled from the middle east …to …germany since thats where history says they were last at home

  • kmac

    wow, what a bunch of commie, pinko fags you guys all are…

    • baz

      wow, what an uneducated, ignorant, incompetent so and so you are

    • andy

      And I guess were anti-semitic too…

    • A. G. Phillbin

      Couldn't you try and educate yourself regarding modern political insults? "Commie pinko fags" is mid twentieth century! Get with the program! you could at least throw "muslim" or jihadi" or "terrorist symp" in there, for f@cks sake! I mean, really!!

  • baz

    For 16 successive years during the presidencies of Rafsanjani and Khatami, Iran repeatedly approached the US for talks over normalization of ties and an end to animosity. Each time, Iran was shot down by Bush, Clinton, Bush Junior and lastly by Obama who refuses to meet and debate Ahmadinejad despite the many invitations sent by the Iranian president. Dich Cheney famously said "we dont talk to evil" after the Iranians offered to cut all nuclear work and reign in Hezbollah in 2003. Why? Isnt that what we claim we want. To stop Irans nuclear program and its support for the "terrorist" group hezbollah? Why would Mr CHeney want iran to continue those activities??

    Because Israel needs a nemesis to Justify the billions in weapons and private money for settlements in gets from the US and Europe every year. In total, this amounts to close to $20 billion from public and private sources. Big bad Iran, which cant even tie its own shoe, has filled that part well, particularly the photoshopped pictures of Ahmadinejad to make him look more sinister and the frequent misquoting that he wants to wipe Israel off the map,.. A misquote that was started by Israeli media.

    2) The US wants to control Iran and its resources. They dont give a darn about nuclear weapons or terrorism, otherwise Saudi Arabia and North Korea would be the top two threats on their list. Negotiation is not an option. Only total submission by the Iranians to our will can be accepted

    In the end, Israel will drag us into war with Iran and laugh and laugh and perhaps a millions Iranians and tens of thousands of Americans are killed for their amusement

    • andy

      America has been Israel's chump for a long time.

  • Dave Boyer

    I'm shocked, just completely shocked to find most of American Foreign Policy Institutions would continually lie about Iranian capabilities and intentions because "we" covet Iranian (and Caspian Basin) energy resources!!!!!

    • andy


  • Jamie N

    Sorry forgot to look at my spelling.

  • nowar

    "The views of the I.A.E.A. are more suspicious." Hersh addresses this point (of "triggers") in an interview on Democracy Now! today:

    "Unless a more realistic and sober understanding of Iran becomes broadly accepted, we are doomed to rising tensions and a potential repeat of the Iraq War debacle." As Hersh says in the DN! interview, "It's 2003 all over again."

  • jay_diggity

    oh please lets NOT go to war with IRAN. Enough already. Self Control will lead to SELF RESPECT if you let it MY GOVERNMENT!!

    Try it.

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  • Katy

    This is just ridiculous. We must learn to control our urges, as we are americans. America is the number one country in the world. A country of free commerce. We can better ourselves by taking after my home state, Texas. I live in Houston. We have a lot of cleaning services, and even Houston Maid Service

  • Gaince

    CamSur Watersports Complicated – CamSur Watersports Complicated was the site of the 2009 WWA Ultimate Wakeboard Championships, drastically including to its popularity as a world-class wakeboarding web site and water sports venue. CamSur is an abbreviation for Camarines Sur, which is the placement of this water park. Spring water or faucet water does not contain electrolytes.