debkafile Exclusive: Iran cheers US intelligence reassessment of nuclear arms threat

Iran’s nuclear negotiator, dep. FM Saeed Jalili’s trip to Moscow Tuesday, Dec. 4. for talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin, capitalizes on the breakthrough the US has offered Tehran. The shock waves from the US intelligence report that Iran had put its bid for a nuclear bomb on hold in 2003, in contradiction of its 2005 assessment, are already touching other countries as well.
President George W. Bush will talk to the media later Tuesday about his radical turnaround on Iran. Only two months ago he spoke of the Iranian nuclear threat in terms of World War III.
Striking a welcoming note, FM Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated that Tehran never had plans to build atomic weapons. Countries with questions in the past “have now amended their views realistically,” he said. Last Friday, Nov. 30, Mottaki was less restrained, declaring, “The US has lost nuclear battle to Iran.” He was speaking to Basij members (Revolutionary Guards local reserve units). And in Tehran, ex-president Hashemi Rafsanjani declared enigmatically after Friday worship: “Iran is just a few steps before the end.”
Rafsanjani, close adviser to supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was initially interpreted as referring to the national nuclear program. But according to debkafile‘s Iranian sources, he was talking about Iran’s contest with the US over its nuclear program. This would indicate that Tehran had been alerted in advance to the White House’s policy revision on its nuclear activities on the bases of the NIE report.
debkafile‘s Washington sources confirm that the news which was kept closely secret took political circles by storm when it was released by national security adviser Stephen Hadley and a bevy of senior intelligence officials Monday. Contrary to claims from the Israeli prime minister’s office, Ehud Olmert was not tipped off in advance when he met Bush at the White House last Wednesday.
Our sources add that, contrary to the assurances emanating from Jerusalem, the entire sanctions edifice is in danger of toppling, including Washington’s push for a third round of penalties for Iran at the UN Security Council. This push was based on the previous intelligence estimates of Iran’s progress towards nuclear armament in defiance of the international community in the last four years. The White House has now backtracked on those estimates.

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