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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

December 4, 2007 An analysis of the New Report on Iran- Why it May be Very Bad News?

The US Intelligence estimate that has concluded that Iran abandoned its nuclear arms program in 2003 has dominated the news both here and in Israel. It is either the best news that Israel has heard or the worst possible news. If you are an optimist, you can hope that the estimate is correct. I am usually an optimist. In this case I am not. The estimate is basically a committee report combining all the estimates of the many US intelligence committees. It is a very problematic report on many fronts. It claims that Iran is going forward with its program to produce highly enriched uranium, but has dropped its work on "weaponizing" the plutonium. The problem is that there is no need for highly enriched uranium unless one is planning to turn it into a weapon. The enrichment process is the greatest technological hurdle. Once you have enriched uranium it is not very difficult to create a bomb.

The other major problem with the new assessment is that it is not based on any new hard assessment of intelligence. It is based on an analysis of Iran's intentions. Analysts based their assessment on the actions of a logical government and its normal cost benefit analysis. But what intelligence analysis would have believed that Adolph Hitler would have used his ever limited transportation resources to move Jews to their death? Anti-Semites cannot be evaluated by normal cost benefit analysis. Therefore, any attempt to analyze Iranian intention that way would be a mistake.

The effect of the report on the Israeli containment policy on Iran is catastrophic. Any chance of a US or Israeli military attack has now disappeared. Worse yet, any chance of increasing sanctions against Iran is also gone. Iran is now going to try to have the current sanctions overturned. Years of diplomatic work is now down the tubes and most likely, Iran will be free to finish its weapons program unhindered. Let's pray that the optimists are right.

Another depressing statistic was released today. Israel ranked 40 out 57 in the world in Math and Reading among 8th graders. I am not sure what is more dangerous in the long term: survival of the country with Iran's improving nuclear program or a failing school system.