Newt Gingrich Says Report Iran Stopped Nukes Program ‘Political’
Generals Say Iran Still May Be Fomenting Attacks On U.S. Forces In Iraq
A prominent former leader in Congress took issue with both the timing and content of a report, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), that said Iran probably ceased its nuclear weapons development program in 2003.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he thought American officials who released the NIE did so in a "political" move to discredit Bush’s initiative to block Iranian missiles from reaching Europe.
Gingrich, speaking yesterday on the ABC News show This Week, also stressed that the NIE finding that Iran probably ceased a clandestine nuclear weapons development program doesn’t obviate the possibility that Iran could have initiated another program, or that it might convert its present nuclear materials production program into bomb production.
Gingrich is but the latest to criticize the popular perception of the NIE findings, a perception that may be filled with error. (Please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Friday, Dec. 7, 2007.)
Two U.S. generals questioned whether Iranian support for those attacking U.S. troops in Iraq is waning, as the NIE suggests.
While those attacks have declined, they do continue, the generals noted.
At the Pentagon, the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran has caused "no course correction" on the Joint Staff, Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, Joint Staff director of strategic plans and policy, said, according to a Pentagon report.
"We take the (National Intelligence Estimate) on board as we look at the country of Iran," he said. "The Iranians have said officially they would not support nefarious activities — movements of weapons and materials into Iraq and Afghanistan."
Iran was supplying weapons, training and finances to Iraqi insurgents, but there have been indications that Iran has stopped this practice. "The frequency of spectacular or signature attacks is down, but it’s not zero," Army Lt. Gen. Carter F. Ham, director of operations on the Joint Staff, said. "That’s a positive indicator, and we like that. But there are other indicators that weapons, munitions and training are still being provided by Iran.
"There is an effort to try and interdict that as best we can in concert with the Iraqi security forces," he continued. "But there is still an ongoing diplomatic effort, which is probably more important than the interdiction. I would say the jury is still out on what the flow [from Iran] really looks like."
Intelligence personnel in Iraq cannot tell if caches discovered there recently contain weapons from the time after Iran announced its intention to stop this support to insurgents, Sattler said.