The National Intelligence Estimate's findings yesterday that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 will have dramatic fallout at home and abroad, the New York Times reports, beginning with the collapse of the White House's recent campaign to portray Iran as an immediate threat to world peace. It will erode international support for tougher sanctions against Iran, and take off the table the "widely rumored and feared" possibility of military intervention pushed by hardliners in the Bush administration.
The NIE about-face will further undermine confidence in US intelligence capabilities, already weakened by faulty intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. “The way this will play is that the intelligence community has admitted it was wrong,” said one analyst. “So why should we believe them now?” But GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel sees it as opening the door for the kind of "diplomatic flexibility" the White House has recently shown on North Korea and the Mideast.