Friday, December 07, 2007

What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

Serious questions have arisen about what the Bush administration knew about the key findings of the newly released National Intelligence Estimate and when they knew it. In a press conference on December 4, President Bush told reporters that he had learned only a week before the report was published that the intelligence community now believed Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003. However, the following day, the White House acknowledged to reporters in press briefing that Bush was told in August that the illicit weapons program "may be suspended."

I touched on this subject in "War Is Peace, Sanctions Are Diplomacy," but the new NIE sheds more light about the reason why the designation on October 25 as "proliferators of weapons of mass destruction" for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were based primarily on the ballistic missile program, and only secondarily on the nuclear program.

According to the State Department fact sheet:

The IRGC has been outspoken about its willingness to proliferate ballistic missiles capable of carrying WMD. The IRGC’s ballistic missile inventory includes missiles, which could be modified to deliver WMD. The IRGC is one of the primary regime organizations tied to developing and testing the Shahab-3. The IRGC attempted, as recently as 2006, to procure sophisticated and costly equipment that could be used to support Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Although the designations were announced on October 25, it's important to remember that it was leaked to the media in August that the Departments of State and Treasury were considering designating the IRGC a terrorist organization. It begs the question about what intelligence they had during their deliberations of the designations and why the final justification for the IRGC designation focused more on the ballistic missile program.

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