Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The NIE and Sarko

The release of a new US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stating that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 raises questions about Sarkozy's support for the Bush administration position on Iran. After meeting with Bush in August, Sarko returned to Europe and said that the alternative was between an Iranian bomb and the bombardment of Iran. His foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, intimated that the next step, if diplomatic pressure failed, was war. And there were rumors that Sarkozy was privately telling other European governments that Bush had decided to take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities unless there was real progress on the diplomatic front.

So what did Sarko know? Did Bush tell him about the then-secret NIE? Did he share other classified information with his newfound European friend? Although there is much speculation in Washington about the timing of the NIE release and whether or not there was new information that prompted it, it is quite clear that the US intelligence community had raised doubts about Iran's nuclear intentions before the Bush-Sarkozy meeting in Maine. If Sarkozy knew of this intelligence, why did he stick his neck out so far to support Bush? If he didn't know, will the possibility that Bush deceived him alter his attitude toward the current US administration? Thus far, the French reaction has been to continue to insist on the need for diplomatic pressure. But an alert opposition (if there is one) might want to ask for an account of information the US may or may not have shared with France.


Andrew said...

This is all the more interesting in light of a recent article regarding US reliance on French intelligence for Iran policy.

'France top intelligence source on Iran'

Associated Press
Friday, November 9, 2007 (Washington)
France is one of the top intelligence sources on Iran for the United States, Democrat Ellen Tausche, chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on strategic forces, said.

''Iran is deadly dangerous. They have been isolated from us for a very, very long time, and we don't have very good intelligence. I am glad we use a lot of international intelligence, especially the French and (Britain's) MI6,'' she told reporters on Thursday.

Asked if the US administration's warnings about Iran's alleged secret nuclear weapons program should be believed, Tausche said: ''You shouldn't, you should believe the French.''

The lawmaker added that on Wednesday, after meeting with President George W Bush, French ''President (Nicolas) Sarkozy was totally unambiguous about Iran, and (said) that there was reason to be concerned about (its) ambitions.''

On October 29, French Defence Minister Herve Morin dismissed comments by the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, that there was no evidence Iran was building nuclear weapons.

''Our information, matching those of other countries, gives us the opposite feeling,'' Morin said at the end of a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

P.S. Kudos, sir, on fine analysis. Please keep it up.

alain q. said...

Iran insist on the fact that their uranium-enrichment program is aimed only at industrial peaceful applications.

But the fact is that Iran has no nuclear energy program of any kind, no nuclear power plants being built or planned.

Isn't this contradiction enough to make you think ?