A new American intelligence report that says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago has virtually eliminated the chance that the U.S. will bomb Iran in the immediate future—and it may herald a warming trend in relations between the two countries. A declassified summary of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran—which reflects the judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies—says “with high confidence” that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 “in response to international pressure,” which “suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence than we judged previously.” This report contradicts the 2005 intelligence estimate on Iran, which claimed, also with “high confidence,” that Tehran was actively seeking nuclear weapons.
George. W. Bush said on Tuesday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran remains a threat. But the new report inescapably undercuts his rhetoric, and negates arguments in favour of pre-emptive military action. In fact, according to Stratfor, a private global intelligence agency with a strong track record, it would not have been released without Bush’s approval. That it has been, the agency says, indicates that Iran and the U.S. have secretly struck a deal over Iraq—where Iran backs militias hostile to the U.S.—or are close to one. “The full details of any deal are unlikely to be made public any time soon because the U.S. and Iranian publics probably are not ready to consider each other as anything short of foes,” Stratfor reports, but adds that the agreement will likely allow for a permanent deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq, though not at a level that would make an invasion of Iran from Iraq feasible. “With the nuclear issue out of the way, the heavy lifting has already been done,” the agency concludes. “All that remains is working out the ‘details.’ ” M
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