U.S. now sees Iran as pursuing nuclear bomb – Los Angeles Times

Funny how Obama now sees that Iran is a threat and is persuing nuclear weapons… I wonder what would have happened had he been privy to this level of intel when the decision to take out Saddam was made… I bet he would have sang a different tune, but then again he was just a state senator in IL and did not have access to intel this level of intel when he spoke out against going into Iraq.

Reporting from Washington — Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.

Obama’s nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. “From all the information I’ve seen,” Panetta said, “I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.” 

The language reflects the extent to which senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program.

As the administration moves toward talks with Iran, Obama appears to be sending a signal that the United States will not be drawn into a debate over Iran’s intent.

“When you’re talking about negotiations in Iran, it is dangerous to appear weak or naive,” said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear weapons expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-proliferation organization based in Washington. 

Cirincione said the unequivocal language also worked to Obama’s political advantage. “It guards against criticism from the right that the administration is underestimating Iran,” he said.

Iran has long maintained that it aims to generate electricity, not build bombs, with nuclear power. But Western intelligence officials and nuclear experts increasingly view those claims as implausible.

U.S. officials said that although no new evidence had surfaced to undercut the findings of the 2007 estimate, there was growing consensus that it provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year.

Obama’s top intelligence official, Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, is expected to address mounting concerns over Iran’s nuclear program in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

When it was issued, the NIE stunned the international community. It declared that U.S. spy agencies judged “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”

U.S. intelligence officials later said the conclusion was based on evidence that Iran had stopped secret efforts to design a nuclear warhead around the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Often overlooked in the NIE, officials said, was that Iran had not stopped its work on other crucial fronts, including missile design and uranium enrichment. Many experts contend that these are more difficult than building a bomb.

Iran’s advances on enrichment have become a growing source of alarm. Since 2004, the country has gone from operating a few dozen centrifuges — cylindrical machines used to enrich uranium — to nearly 6,000, weapons experts agree.

By November, Iran had produced an estimated 1,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium, not nearly enough to fuel a nuclear energy reactor, but perilously close to the quantity needed to make a bomb.

A report issued last month by the Institute for Science and International Security concluded that “Iran is moving steadily toward a breakout capability and is expected to reach that milestone during the first half of 2009.” That means it would have enough low-enriched uranium to be able to quickly convert it to weapons-grade material.

Tehran’s progress has come despite CIA efforts to sabotage shipments of centrifuge components on their way into Iran and entice the country’s nuclear scientists to leave.

Iran still faces considerable hurdles. The country touted its launch of a 60-pound satellite into orbit this month. Experts said Iran’s rockets would need to be able to carry more than 2,000 pounds to deliver a first-generation nuclear bomb.

And there are indications that the U.S. and Iran are interested in holding serious diplomatic discussions for the first time in three decades. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week that his nation was “ready to hold talks based on mutual respect,” and Obama indicated that his administration would look for opportunities “in the coming months.”

Hassan Qashqavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday warned the U.S. not to wait for Iranian presidential elections this year, because ultimate authority rests with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He also said Iran would be patient.

“Since a new administration came to power in the U.S., we do not want to burn the opportunity of President Obama and give him time to change the reality on the ground,” Qashqavi said.

But experts said Iran was now close enough to nuclear weapons capability that it may be less susceptible to international pressure.

“They’ve made more progress in the last five years than in the previous 10,” Cirincione said.

via U.S. now sees Iran as pursuing nuclear bomb – Los Angeles Times.

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Obama Lays Ground Work For Direct Negotiations With Iran

Direct diplomacy without preconditions I am sure… Just wait and see. Pretty soon we will be bending over for these asshats while they builds some nukes… Remember what happened with N. Korea under the Clinton administration… 

Change You Can Believe In!

President Obama did a quick pivot Monday, shifting his focus to foreign policy by contacting a handful of major world leaders — including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nikolas Sarkozy — as his new U.N. ambassador restated the desire for vigorous and “direct diplomacy” with Iran.

President Obama did a quick pivot Monday, shifting his focus to foreign policy by contacting a handful of major world leaders — including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nikolas Sarkozy — as his new U.N. ambassador restated the desire for vigorous and “direct diplomacy” with Iran.

Obama spoke with the foreign leaders ahead of a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who was leaving immediately afterward for a trip to the region. Mitchell will go to Cairo, Egypt; Jersusalem, Israel; Ramallah in the West Bank; Amman, Jordan; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He will also visit Paris and London.

Back in the U.S., U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was confirmed last week for the post, said Monday that Iran’s refusal to meet international obligations will increase pressure on Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions and cooperate with the United States and global community.

Besides pursuing nuclear weapons, Iran has called for the destruction of Israel and support for Hamas, a terror group designated by the U.S., Israel and the European Union. 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Rice’s remarks are not a departure from statements made previously by Obama the candidate. She merely restated the administration position that no forms of communication should be off the table with the Islamic regime. 

“Whether you were on the campaign trail or not, clearly this was something that generated a lot of coverage over the past two years. And I think Ambassador Rice was simply restating the position that the president had,” he said.

Gibbs did not offer any specific initiatives on dealing with Iran, but said Rice’s remarks should come as no surprise.

“This administration is going to use all elements of our national power to address concerns” about Iran’s nuclear program. 

As for the Mitchell trip, Gibbs said Mitchell was ahead overseas “to begin the process that the president promised to be actively engaged in, the peace process there in the Middle East.”

State Department Spokesman Robert A. Wood said the purpose of the trip is to consult with regional leaders on a range of issues, including trying to contain smuggling into Gaza to prevent the rearming of Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza. He said Mitchell will not meet with any Hamas leaders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

via Obama, Iran Talks Next? – First 100 Days of Presidency – Politics FOXNews.com .

And Still Our Government Does Nothing

When will our government get the balls to stand up to Iran… Nothing happens in Iran without the governments direct involvement or blessing Their president has kidnapped before… Their president has authorized support of terrorism… Their president is a terrorist… Yes the government cooperates on the surface, but that is only to cover up their involvement.

TEHRAN, Iran —  The wife of a missing former FBI agent said Saturday she has been unable to find out what happened to her husband despite visiting the Iranian island where he was last seen.

The Iranian government reiterated that it had no information about Robert Levinson’s whereabouts.

“Our trip is almost over and the miracle we were hoping for has not happened. We still don’t have answers about what happened to Bob,” Christine Levinson said at a news conference in Tehran following her visit to Kish Island, a resort off the southern coast of Iran.

Her 59-year-old husband was last seen March 8 on Kish, where he had gone to seek information on cigarette smuggling for a client of his security firm.

“We tried to retrace his steps and met with airport officials and members of the hotel staff where Bob stayed before he disappeared,” Christine Levinson told reporters at the Swiss Embassy. “We still don’t know where Bob is, and the nightmare I and my family are experiencing will continue.”

Christine Levinson arrived in Iran on Tuesday to look for her husband, accompanied by her 22-year-old son, Daniel, and her sister, Suzan Halpin. According to the Swiss Embassy, which looks after American interests in Iran, she is scheduled to stay in Iran until Sunday.

Government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters earlier Saturday that the Iranian government had no information proving that Levinson had gone missing while visiting Kish.

“If new information is given to us on this matter, we will follow up the case,” Elham told reporters.

Iran has said it has informed U.S. officials through the Swiss Embassy that authorities have conducted an investigation but do not know what happened to Levinson.

Christine Levinson said Iranian officials have been cooperative, but she still believes her husband is in Iran because his name has not shown up on any flight manifests of planes leaving the country. She also said she saw her husband’s signature at the Mariam Hotel in Kish, where he stayed.

“I saw my husband’s signature in the hotel book,” she said. “There is a record of him checking out.”

Christine Levinson said she has not given up.

“I’m still hoping to find my husband,” she said. “I always have hope.”

Robert Levinson, a father of seven from Coral Springs, Fla., was an FBI agent in New York and Florida until he retired in 1998.

Hide And Seek With Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Another piece of missing NIE information. As many are already speculating, Iran is still running its nuclear weapons program. The NIE report surely seems damning of our government, but as the report states, Iran suspended its program in 2003. Key here is suspended. This is not the same as ended.

Well according to this report, which claims to have people inside Iran, the program is unsuspended and under the strictest covert cover. This is more believable than the complete dumping of the program. It would also indicate that diplomatic methods are not working. Have diplomatic efferts ever worked with Iran?

Iran needs to be shown force, that is the only thing this Jihadist regime understands. As for their 2003 suspension of their nuclear program, force is clearly their motive behind its suspension, the invasion of Iraq scarred the shit of the Iranians…

Since then threat of force has been deminished to nothing thanks to our liberal comrades in the US and UN. So Iran feels they are free to do as they please. The NIE report gives Iran just the cannon fodder they needed to through the anti-American and anti-Bush political movements into high gear.

In 10-15 years, hindsight will be 20-20 and people will be blaming Bush for not attacking Iran when he knew they were running this nuclear program all along.

Mr. Bush get some balls and turn up the pressure on Iran.

NEW YORK —  Iran did shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but restarted it a year later, moving and hiding the equipment to thwart international inspectors, according to an Iranian opposition group, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran exposed the country’s nuclear-fuel program in 2002 and now believes a newly released U.S. analysis is giving the wrong impression that Iran’s nuclear program is not an urgent threat, the newspaper reported.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate published last week said Tehran shut down its weaponization program in 2003, contradicting an earlier report that the Islamic Republic was determined to build a nuclear bomb.

Read the Wall Street Journal report (subscription required)

The NCRI, considered by the United States and European Union to be a terrorist organization, has had a mixed record of accuracy with its claims about Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the past, the Wall Street Journal said.

The NCRI, however, says it was added to the EU terrorist list under pressure from Tehran at a time when Western countries were trying to improve relations with Iran.

The group agrees that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council decided to shut down its most important nuclear weapons research center in eastern Tehran, called Lavisan-Shian, in August 2003, the Journal said.

But the group, which claims it has sources inside Iran, told the paper the facility was broken into 11 fields of research, including projects to develop a nuclear trigger and shape weapons-grade uranium into a warhead.

“They scattered the weaponization program to other locations and restarted in 2004,” Mohammad Mohaddessin, NCRI’s foreign affairs chief, told the Wall Street Journal.

“Their strategy was that if the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) found any one piece of this research program, it would be possible to justify it as civilian. But so long as it was all together, they wouldn’t be able to.”

By the time international inspectors were allowed to visit the Lavisan site, the buildings Iran claimed were devoted to nuclear research had been torn down and the ground bulldozed, the paper reported.

The NCRI said the equipment was moved to another military compound known as the Center for Readiness and Advanced Technology, to Malek-Ashtar University Isfahan and to a defense ministry hospital in Tehran.