New York Sun Editorial
February 7, 2008
On December 3 the director of national intelligence released an estimate of Iran's nuclear program that said the Mullahs had suspended its bomb making in 2003 ... Mr. McConnell says he now regrets the phrasing of the unclassified estimate that so stirred America's enthusiasts of diplomacy.
In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. McConnell noted that Iran is developing both the long range ballistic missiles and the nuclear fuel for a potential weapon.
What had halted, it turns out, was work to design the actual warhead and secret enrichment activity. The Iranians continued to enrich uranium in the open in Natanz in defiance of two Security Council resolutions.
As for the secret enrichment and weapons design, Mr. McConnell is not even sure as of mid-2007 whether the Iranians have restarted this work. "We assess with moderate confidence that Tehran had not restarted these activities as of mid-2007, but since they comprised an unannounced secret effort which Iran attempted to hide, we do not know if these activities have been restarted," he told the assembled senators.
So why then did the opening sentence of the December 3 assessment state with no equivocation, "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program"? Mr. McConnell said that it was because he had to assemble quickly a declassified estimate in late November and that it did not occur to him that this kind of declarative statement would confuse the issue.