John Negroponte, our first director of national
his first threat assessment [.pdf] to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
"Let me begin with a straightforward statement of preoccupation shared
by all of us sitting here before you: terrorism is the preeminent threat to
our citizens, homeland, interests, and friends.
"The War on Terror is our first priority and driving concern as we
press ahead with a major transformation of the intelligence community we represent."
Interesting, because for weeks now, senators from across the political spectrum
have been gravely warning all of us that the resumption by Iran of certain safeguarded
activities constitutes the gravest threat to our national security to develop
since the end of the Cold War.
Do the solons know something about Iran that Negroponte and his underlings
Perhaps, because what Negroponte fed the committee about Iran was largely misinformation.
In particular, he told them that "Iran conducted a clandestine uranium
enrichment program for nearly two decades in violation of its IAEA safeguards
Now if any of those intelligence weenies sitting behind Negroponte had bothered
to check with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), they would have
obtained the intelligence that Iran has not yet begun initial operations of
its planned uranium enrichment program, which will – in any case – be fully
safeguarded. Nor has Iran ever been reported to the UN Security Council to be
in violation of its IAEA Safeguards Agreement.
True, as a result of Iran's voluntary cooperation under an Additional Protocol
to Iran's Safeguards Agreement – which the Iranian parliament has yet
to ratify – the IAEA learned almost three years ago that Iran had previously
imported small quantities of "source and special nuclear materials"
and had engaged in laboratory-scale activities involving those materials that
ought to have been reported to the IAEA, but were not.
The IAEA recently learned about similar activities by South Korea.
But the bottom line is that both Iran and South Korea have reported
those activities, now. And as best as the IAEA can tell, both Iran and South
Korea are presently in complete compliance with their existing Safeguards Agreements.
And if the IAEA director general doesn't know who is – and who isn't – in compliance
with its Safeguards Agreement, who does? Certainly not Negroponte.
Nevertheless, Negroponte goes on to state that "despite its claims to
the contrary, we assess that Iran seeks nuclear weapons."
Now, everyone is entitled to an opinion about what the mullahs seek. But Negroponte
is telling senators what his underlings have concluded as a result of intensive
analysis of intelligence obtained through an expenditure of about a zillion
dollars of your hard-earned money.
"We judge that Tehran probably does not yet have a nuclear weapon and
probably has not yet produced or acquired the necessary fissile material."
Of course, Negroponte's underlings may be wrong about the mullahs not already
having a nuclear weapon or two. (Obtained, for example, from Pakistan?)
If so, it was their job – not the IAEA's job – to have prevented that from
But it is the IAEA's job to determine whether or not Iran has produced
or otherwise acquired any quantity of fissile material, and after almost three
years of go-anywhere, see-anything inspections, IAEA Director General Mohamed
ElBaradei continues to report that he can find no materials or activities that
ought to be subject to IAEA safeguards that are not.
So it is not Iran's safeguarded nuclear programs that could conceivably pose
a grave threat to you soccer moms; it is a nuke or two Iran may conceivably
have gotten from our non-NATO ally, Pakistan, that pose a threat.
Negroponte apparently doesn't think Pakistan has yet given Iran any of its
"Nevertheless, the danger that it will acquire a nuclear weapon and
the ability to integrate it with the ballistic missiles Iran already possesses
is a reason for immediate concern."
Immediate concern? Does Negroponte worry about Pakistan and its stockpile of
"The nation is a front-line partner in the war on terror, having captured
several al-Qaeda leaders, but also remains a major source of extremism that
poses a threat to Musharraf, to the US, and to neighboring India and Afghanistan.
"Pakistan's national elections scheduled for 2007 will be a key benchmark
to determine whether the country is continuing to make progress in its democratic
Well, if Pakistan's elections turn out like those in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and
Palestine, there will no longer be a disagreement as to what constitutes the