Iran is still enriching uranium in violation of U.N. proliferation rules to which Iran had agreed (and testing long-range delivery missiles). Yes, it is still enriching below weapons grade. Iran says this is to fuel nuclear reactors to generate electricity — but it has no such reactors. And to get that uranium enriched to weapons grade, all it has to do is keep running it through its centrifuges.What Friedman failed to discuss is why the NIE was released as it was. It seems to me that it was an attempt by people inside the CIA and elsewhere in the government to contain Bush. Their view is that Bush is more dangerous than Iran. It's too bad that a decision of that sort had to be made. But I place the blame for that on Bush and not on those who released the NIE.
“That is the hardest part of building a nuclear weapon, and Iran is still doing it,” said [Gary Samore, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Clinton administration expert on proliferation]. “Our ability to get strong international sanctions to halt that was already weak,” but by declaring definitively that Iran’s weapons program had been halted, the N.I.E. “has given the Russians and Chinese a good excuse to make sanctions even weaker.”
Just as we recognize that some of the statements that originate from foreign capitals are intended primarily for internal consumption, others should recognize that the same sort of thing happens here. It's just too bad that we don't have a coherent and believable foreign policy that can stand on its own in the face of such internal disputes. But Bush destroyed it, and it won't be possible to rebuild it until after the next election.
As Friedman noted at the end of his piece,
Now we have to depend on — Oh, my God! — President Bush to persuade the world to read the whole N.I.E. and see it in a balanced perspective. … Some things are true even if George Bush believes them, but good luck getting anyone to buy that anymore.That's another of the tragedies of the Bush administration.