Iran has no nuclear weapons program: Ex-U.S. spymaster

December 11, 2008 - 0:0

America’s just-retired No.2 intelligence official Tuesday defended a year-old estimate on Iran, saying he stood by its conclusion that Iran has not diverted its nuclear activities to a weapons program.

Thomas Fingar, who stepped down Dec. 1 from the post of deputy director of national intelligence and as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said he also believed that Iran has not diverted low-enriched uranium produced at a facility at Natanz, 160 miles south of Tehran, to weapons use.
“I still stand by the judgments in that estimate,” Mr. Fingar told a small group of reporters, referring to the November 2007 report. “We've had other teams look at this. Everyone who has, has affirmed the judgments we made.”
Iran, as a signatory to the non-proliferation regime, says it wants to enrich uranium for civilian power plants.
Mr. Fingar, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence, said a decision to make a bomb is a political one that he does not think the Iranian government has made. “We stick with an estimate until we change it,” he said.
A member of the intelligence community for 38 years, Mr. Fingar was part of a team at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that doubted whether Iraq had a nuclear program before the U.S. invasion in 2003.
“INR got it less wrong” than other U.S. intelligence agencies, he said, but still thought that Iraq had biological and chemical weapons, which have not been found.
“The analysis was flawed, the underlying intelligence was bad, and the tradecraft was bad,” he said.
Mr. Fingar said the reorganization of intelligence agencies following that failure had improved the quality of intelligence collection and analysis by highlighting diverse views and improving standards for sourcing.
He said coordination among the nation's 100,000 intelligence professionals, stretched across 16 agencies, had improved significantly.
“We are not broken, and we don't need to be fixed,” he said, while conceding that the structure was still “far from perfect.”
Mr. Fingar has been advising the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama.
He said he plans to lecture next year at Stanford University, where he received a master's degree and doctorate in political science, and might write a book.
(Source: Washington Times)