The spy agencies of the US, Europe and Israel are divided over whether Iran is actively developing nuclear warheads, reports the New York Times. The United States believes Iran has halted development, an assessment other spy agencies apparently do not share. How could this intelligence split, and the possibility of Iranian nukes, affect our engagement with Iran?

  • American Intelligence Is 'Delusional'  Steve Schippert of Threats Watch speculated on why American intelligence would be alone. "Does it not strike as at least odd that the United States is the only one who holds this view? That Germany, Israel and France - France - think this is crazy?" he asked. "And the outcome hinges on politicized American NIE fiction from 2007 and a foolish measure of faith and trust that the Iranian regime can be reasoned with or strong-armed out of their nuclear weapons program through infamous strongly worded statements from Turtle Bay or sanctions that have never worked and will always be neutered by Russia or China or both. It's delusional. Clarity, logic and history stare us in the face. We can't call it something else and make it so, no matter what approach one would take from that point forward."
  • No Telling What Else Iran is Hiding  Nima Gerami and James M. Acton suggested that the secret uranium enrichment facility in Qom "might not be the end of the story" on Iran's nuclear ambitions. They would need refined uranium first, implying other secret facilities. "Iran could therefore have also set up a clandestine conversion facility, or have succeeded in procuring the material illicitly." The authors ask, "What else is Iran hiding?" Fortunately, this could be enough to finally bridge the gaps on the UN Security Council that have made enforcing Iranian non-proliferation so difficult. "Iran feels able to defy the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council because the veto-wielding members of the Security Council do not have a unified position. The revelation of the Qom facility -- hidden from the international community and not declared to the IAEA as required -- demonstrates that, contrary to its protestations, Iran is not complying with its international obligations and that its nuclear program does have a military dimension. It could give Britain, France, and the United States exactly the lever they need to build a consensus that the Security Council's demands can go unheeded no longer."
  • Iran Has a 'No First Strike' Policy  Juan Cole pointed out a statement made on Monday by General Hoseyn Salami, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force, who appeared to be saying that Iran would resort to military force only if an aggressor did so first. "Many Western media reports implied that the missile tests were launched along with threats to wipe out Israel," Cole wrote. "But note that the commanding officer overseeing them explicitly restated Iran's 'no first strike' pledge. To my knowledge, no current high official in the Iranian executive has threatened war against Israel, which in any case would be foolhardy given Israel's nuclear arsenal (see below). Iranian officials do say they hope the 'Zionist regime' will collapse as the Soviet Union did."
  • The Failure of the UN  Gideon Rachman wrote in the Financial Times that Iran's action prove the inability of the United Nations and world community to act when it matters. "For those western leaders who are hoping that the UN will tackle the frightening challenges identified by Mr Obama, it is all very depressing," he wrote. "President George W. Bush had his own answer to the question of global governance – the G1. Under Mr Bush, the US was quite prepared to act alone, when necessary." But will Obama take a unilateral path? "The only unilateral American policy that the US could adopt towards Iran would be military intervention – and any such response would run against the grain of everything that Mr Obama stands for. But perhaps it may still come to that, nonetheless."