By Seymour M. Hersh
09 July 2006
The New Yorker
May 31st, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced what appeared
to be a major change in U.S. foreign policy. The Bush Administration,
she said, would be willing to join Russia, China, and its European allies
in direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program. There was a condition,
however: the negotiations would not begin until, as the President put
it in a June 19th speech at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, "the
Iranian regime fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment
and reprocessing activities." Iran, which has insisted on its right
to enrich uranium, was being asked to concede the main point of the
negotiations before they started. The question was whether the Administration
expected the Iranians to agree, or was laying the diplomatic groundwork
for future military action. In his speech, Bush also talked about "freedom
for the Iranian people," and he added, "Iran's leaders have
a clear choice." There was an unspoken threat: the U.S. Strategic
Command, supported by the Air Force, has been drawing up plans, at the
President's direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran.
Inside the Pentagon, senior
commanders have increasingly challenged the President's plans, according
to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and
admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will
probably not succeed in destroying Iran's nuclear program. They have
also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political,
and military consequences for the United States.
A crucial issue in the military's
dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence
agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities
or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. "The
target array in Iran is huge, but it's amorphous," a high-ranking
general told me. "The question we face is, When does innocent infrastructure
evolve into something nefarious?" The high-ranking general added
that the military's experience in Iraq, where intelligence on weapons
of mass destruction was deeply flawed, has affected its approach to
Iran. "We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing
there. This is son of Iraq," he said.
"There is a war about
the war going on inside the building," a Pentagon consultant said.
"If we go, we have to find something."
In President Bush's June
speech, he accused Iran of pursuing a secret weapons program along with
its civilian nuclear-research program (which it is allowed, with limits,
under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). The senior officers in
the Pentagon do not dispute the President's contention that Iran intends
to eventually build a bomb, but they are frustrated by the intelligence
gaps. A former senior intelligence official told me that people in the
Pentagon were asking, "What's the evidence? We've got a million
tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys" - the Iranians
- "have been working on this for eighteen years, and we have nothing?
We're coming up with jack shit."
A senior military official
told me, "Even if we knew where the Iranian enriched uranium was
- and we don't - we don't know where world opinion would stand. The
issue is whether it's a clear and present danger. If you're a military
planner, you try to weigh options. What is the capability of the Iranian
response, and the likelihood of a punitive response - like cutting off
oil shipments? What would that cost us?" Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld and his senior aides "really think they can do this on
the cheap, and they underestimate the capability of the adversary,"
In 1986, Congress authorized
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to act as the "principal
military adviser" to the President. In this case, I was told, the
current chairman, Marine General Peter Pace, has gone further in his
advice to the White House by addressing the consequences of an attack
on Iran. "Here's the military telling the President what he can't
do politically" - raising concerns about rising oil prices, for
example - the former senior intelligence official said. "The J.C.S.
chairman going to the President with an economic argument - what's going
on here?" (General Pace and the White House declined to comment.
The Defense Department responded to a detailed request for comment by
saying that the Administration was "working diligently" on
a diplomatic solution and that it could not comment on classified matters.)
A retired four-star general,
who ran a major command, said, "The system is starting to sense
the end of the road, and they don't want to be condemned by history.
They want to be able to say, 'We stood up.' "
The military leadership
is also raising tactical arguments against the proposal for bombing
Iran, many of which are related to the consequences for Iraq. According
to retired Army Major General William Nash, who was commanding general
of the First Armored Division, served in Iraq and Bosnia, and worked
for the United Nations in Kosovo, attacking Iran would heighten the
risks to American and coalition forces inside Iraq. "What if one
hundred thousand Iranian volunteers came across the border?" Nash
asked. "If we bomb Iran, they cannot retaliate militarily by air
- only on the ground or by sea, and only in Iraq or the Gulf. A military
planner cannot discount that possibility, and he cannot make an ideological
assumption that the Iranians wouldn't do it. We're not talking about
victory or defeat - only about what damage Iran could do to our interests."
Nash, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said,
"Their first possible response would be to send forces into Iraq.
And, since the Iraqi Army has limited capacity, it means that the coalition
forces would have to engage them."
The Americans serving as
advisers to the Iraqi police and military may be at special risk, Nash
added, since an American bombing "would be seen not only as an
attack on Shiites but as an attack on all Muslims. Throughout the Middle
East, it would likely be seen as another example of American imperialism.
It would probably cause the war to spread."
In contrast, some conservatives
are arguing that America's position in Iraq would improve if Iran chose
to retaliate there, according to a government consultant with close
ties to the Pentagon's civilian leaders, because Iranian interference
would divide the Shiites into pro- and anti-Iranian camps, and unify
the Kurds and the Sunnis. The Iran hawks in the White House and the
State Department, including Elliott Abrams and Michael Doran, both of
whom are National Security Council advisers on the Middle East, also
have an answer for those who believe that the bombing of Iran would
put American soldiers in Iraq at risk, the consultant said. He described
the counterargument this way: "Yes, there will be Americans under
attack, but they are under attack now."
Iran's geography would also
complicate an air war. The senior military official said that, when
it came to air strikes, "this is not Iraq," which is fairly
flat, except in the northeast. "Much of Iran is akin to Afghanistan
in terms of topography and flight mapping - a pretty tough target,"
the military official said. Over rugged terrain, planes have to come
in closer, and "Iran has a lot of mature air-defense systems and
networks," he said. "Global operations are always risky, and
if we go down that road we have to be prepared to follow up with ground
The U.S. Navy has a separate
set of concerns. Iran has more than seven hundred undeclared dock and
port facilities along its Persian Gulf coast. The small ports, known
as "invisible piers," were constructed two decades ago by
Iran's Revolutionary Guards to accommodate small private boats used
for smuggling. (The Guards relied on smuggling to finance their activities
and enrich themselves.) The ports, an Iran expert who advises the U.S.
government told me, provide "the infrastructure to enable the Guards
to go after American aircraft carriers with suicide water bombers"
- small vessels loaded with high explosives. He said that the Iranians
have conducted exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel
linking the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and then on to the Indian
Ocean. The strait is regularly traversed by oil tankers, in which a
thousand small Iranian boats simulated attacks on American ships. "That
would be the hardest problem we'd face in the water: a thousand small
targets weaving in and out among our ships."
America's allies in the
Gulf also believe that an attack on Iran would endanger them, and many
American military planners agree. "Iran can do a lot of things
- all asymmetrical," a Pentagon adviser on counter-insurgency told
me. "They have agents all over the Gulf, and the ability to strike
at will." In May, according to a well-informed oil-industry expert,
the Emir of Qatar made a private visit to Tehran to discuss security
in the Gulf after the Iraq war. He sought some words of non-aggression
from the Iranian leadership. Instead, the Iranians suggested that Qatar,
which is the site of the regional headquarters of the U.S. Central Command,
would be its first target in the event of an American attack. Qatar
is a leading exporter of gas and currently operates several major offshore
oil platforms, all of which would be extremely vulnerable. (Nasser bin
Hamad M. al-Khalifa, Qatar's ambassador to Washington, denied that any
threats were issued during the Emir's meetings in Tehran. He told me
that it was "a very nice visit.")
A retired American diplomat,
who has experience in the Gulf, confirmed that the Qatari government
is "very scared of what America will do" in Iran, and "scared
to death" about what Iran would do in response. Iran's message
to the oil-producing Gulf states, the retired diplomat said, has been
that it will respond, and "you are on the wrong side of history."
In late April, the military
leadership, headed by General Pace, achieved a major victory when the
White House dropped its insistence that the plan for a bombing campaign
include the possible use of a nuclear device to destroy Iran's uranium-enrichment
plant at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. The huge
complex includes large underground facilities built into seventy-five-foot-deep
holes in the ground and designed to hold as many as fifty thousand centrifuges.
"Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning,"
the former senior intelligence official told me. "And Pace stood
up to them. Then the world came back: 'O.K., the nuclear option is politically
unacceptable.' " At the time, a number of retired officers, including
two Army major generals who served in Iraq, Paul Eaton and Charles Swannack,
Jr., had begun speaking out against the Administration's handling of
the Iraq war. This period is known to many in the Pentagon as "the
"An event like this
doesn't get papered over very quickly," the former official added.
"The bad feelings over the nuclear option are still felt. The civilian
hierarchy feels extraordinarily betrayed by the brass, and the brass
feel they were tricked into it" - the nuclear planning - "by
being asked to provide all options in the planning papers."
Sam Gardiner, a military
analyst who taught at the National War College before retiring from
the Air Force as a colonel, said that Rumsfeld's second-guessing and
micromanagement were a fundamental problem. "Plans are more and
more being directed and run by civilians from the Office of the Secretary
of Defense," Gardiner said. "It causes a lot of tensions.
I'm hearing that the military is increasingly upset about not being
taken seriously by Rumsfeld and his staff."
Gardiner went on, "The
consequence is that, for Iran and other missions, Rumsfeld will be pushed
more and more in the direction of special operations, where he has direct
authority and does not have to put up with the objections of the Chiefs."
Since taking office in 2001, Rumsfeld has been engaged in a running
dispute with many senior commanders over his plans to transform the
military, and his belief that future wars will be fought, and won, with
airpower and Special Forces. That combination worked, at first, in Afghanistan,
but the growing stalemate there, and in Iraq, has created a rift, especially
inside the Army. The senior military official said, "The policymakers
are in love with Special Ops - the guys on camels."
The discord over Iran can,
in part, be ascribed to Rumsfeld's testy relationship with the generals.
They see him as high-handed and unwilling to accept responsibility for
what has gone wrong in Iraq. A former Bush Administration official described
a recent meeting between Rumsfeld and four-star generals and admirals
at a military commanders' conference, on a base outside Washington,
that, he was told, went badly. The commanders later told General Pace
that "they didn't come here to be lectured by the Defense Secretary.
They wanted to tell Rumsfeld what their concerns were." A few of
the officers attended a subsequent meeting between Pace and Rumsfeld,
and were unhappy, the former official said, when "Pace did not
repeat any of their complaints. There was disappointment about Pace."
The retired four-star general also described the commanders' conference
as "very fractious." He added, "We've got twenty-five
hundred dead, people running all over the world doing stupid things,
and officers outside the Beltway asking, 'What the hell is going on?'
Pace's supporters say that
he is in a difficult position, given Rumsfeld's penchant for viewing
generals who disagree with him as disloyal. "It's a very narrow
line between being responsive and effective and being outspoken and
ineffective," the former senior intelligence official said.
But Rumsfeld is not alone
in the Administration where Iran is concerned; he is closely allied
with Dick Cheney, and, the Pentagon consultant said, "the President
generally defers to the Vice-President on all these issues," such
as dealing with the specifics of a bombing campaign if diplomacy fails.
"He feels that Cheney has an informational advantage. Cheney is
not a renegade. He represents the conventional wisdom in all of this.
He appeals to the strategic-bombing lobby in the Air Force - who think
that carpet bombing is the solution to all problems."
Bombing may not work against
Natanz, let alone against the rest of Iran's nuclear program. The possibility
of using tactical nuclear weapons gained support in the Administration
because of the belief that it was the only way to insure the destruction
of Natanz's buried laboratories. When that option proved to be politically
untenable (a nuclear warhead would, among other things, vent fatal radiation
for miles), the Air Force came up with a new bombing plan, using advanced
guidance systems to deliver a series of large bunker-busters - conventional
bombs filled with high explosives - on the same target, in swift succession.
The Air Force argued that the impact would generate sufficient concussive
force to accomplish what a tactical nuclear warhead would achieve, but
without provoking an outcry over what would be the first use of a nuclear
weapon in a conflict since Nagasaki.
The new bombing concept
has provoked controversy among Pentagon planners and outside experts.
Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago who has taught
at the Air Force's School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, told me,
"We always have a few new toys, new gimmicks, and rarely do these
new tricks lead to a phenomenal breakthrough. The dilemma is that Natanz
is a very large underground area, and even if the roof came down we
won't be able to get a good estimate of the bomb damage without people
on the ground. We don't even know where it goes underground, and we
won't have much confidence in assessing what we've actually done. Absent
capturing an Iranian nuclear scientist and documents, it's impossible
to set back the program for sure."
One complicating aspect
of the multiple-hit tactic, the Pentagon consultant told me, is "the
liquefaction problem" - the fact that the soil would lose its consistency
owing to the enormous heat generated by the impact of the first bomb.
"It will be like bombing water, with its currents and eddies. The
bombs would likely be diverted." Intelligence has also shown that
for the past two years the Iranians have been shifting their most sensitive
nuclear-related materials and production facilities, moving some into
urban areas, in anticipation of a bombing raid.
"The Air Force is hawking
it to the other services," the former senior intelligence official
said. "They're all excited by it, but they're being terribly criticized
for it." The main problem, he said, is that the other services
do not believe the tactic will work. "The Navy says, 'It's not
our plan.' The Marines are against it - they know they're going to be
the guys on the ground if things go south."
"It's the bomber mentality,"
the Pentagon consultant said. "The Air Force is saying, 'We've
got it covered, we can hit all the distributed targets.' " The
Air Force arsenal includes a cluster bomb that can deploy scores of
small bomblets with individual guidance systems to home in on specific
targets. The weapons were deployed in Kosovo and during the early stages
of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the Air Force is claiming that the
same techniques can be used with larger bombs, allowing them to be targeted
from twenty-five thousand feet against a multitude of widely dispersed
targets. "The Chiefs all know that 'shock and awe' is dead on arrival,"
the Pentagon consultant said. "All except the Air Force."
"Rumsfeld and Cheney
are the pushers on this - they don't want to repeat the mistake of doing
too little," the government consultant with ties to Pentagon civilians
told me. "The lesson they took from Iraq is that there should have
been more troops on the ground" - an impossibility in Iran, because
of the overextension of American forces in Iraq - "so the air war
in Iran will be one of overwhelming force."
Many of the Bush Administration's
supporters view the abrupt change in negotiating policy as a deft move
that won public plaudits and obscured the fact that Washington had no
other good options. "The United States has done what its international
partners have asked it to do," said Patrick Clawson, who is an
expert on Iran and the deputy director for research at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, a conservative think tank. "The
ball is now in their court - for both the Iranians and the Europeans."
Bush's goal, Clawson said, was to assuage his allies, as well as Russia
and China, whose votes, or abstentions, in the United Nations would
be needed if the talks broke down and the U.S. decided to seek Security
Council sanctions or a U.N. resolution that allowed for the use of force
"If Iran refuses to
re-start negotiations, it will also be difficult for Russia and China
to reject a U.N. call for International Atomic Energy Agency inspections,"
Clawson said. "And the longer we go without accelerated I.A.E.A.
access, the more important the issue of Iran's hidden facilities will
become." The drawback to the new American position, Clawson added,
was that "the Iranians might take Bush's agreeing to join the talks
as a sign that their hard line has worked."
Clawson acknowledged that
intelligence on Iran's nuclear-weapons progress was limited. "There
was a time when we had reasonable confidence in what we knew,"
he said. "We could say, 'There's less time than we think,' or,
'It's going more slowly.' Take your choice. Lack of information is a
problem, but we know they've made rapid progress with their centrifuges."
(The most recent American intelligence estimate is that Iran could build
a warhead sometime between 2010 and 2015.)
Flynt Leverett, a former
National Security Council aide for the Bush Administration, told me,
"The only reason Bush and Cheney relented about talking to Iran
was because they were within weeks of a diplomatic meltdown in the United
Nations. Russia and China were going to stiff us" - that is, prevent
the passage of a U.N. resolution. Leverett, a project director at the
New America Foundation, added that the White House's proposal, despite
offering trade and economic incentives for Iran, has not "resolved
any of the fundamental contradictions of U.S. policy." The precondition
for the talks, he said - an open-ended halt to all Iranian enrichment
activity - "amounts to the President wanting a guarantee that they'll
surrender before he talks to them. Iran cannot accept long-term constraints
on its fuel-cycle activity as part of a settlement without a security
guarantee" - for example, some form of mutual non-aggression pact
with the United States.
Leverett told me that, without
a change in U.S. policy, the balance of power in the negotiations will
shift to Russia. "Russia sees Iran as a beachhead against American
interests in the Middle East, and they're playing a very sophisticated
game," he said. "Russia is quite comfortable with Iran having
nuclear fuel cycles that would be monitored, and they'll support the
Iranian position" - in part, because it gives them the opportunity
to sell billions of dollars' worth of nuclear fuel and materials to
Tehran. "They believe they can manage their long- and short-term
interests with Iran, and still manage the security interests,"
Leverett said. China, which, like Russia, has veto power on the Security
Council, was motivated in part by its growing need for oil, he said.
"They don't want punitive measures, such as sanctions, on energy
producers, and they don't want to see the U.S. take a unilateral stance
on a state that matters to them." But, he said, "they're happy
to let Russia take the lead in this." (China, a major purchaser
of Iranian oil, is negotiating a multibillion-dollar deal with Iran
for the purchase of liquefied natural gas over a period of twenty-five
years.) As for the Bush Administration, he added, "unless there's
a shift, it's only a question of when its policy falls apart."
It's not clear whether the
Administration will be able to keep the Europeans in accord with American
policy if the talks break down. Morton Abramowitz, a former head of
State Department intelligence, who was one of the founders of the International
Crisis Group, said, "The world is different than it was three years
ago, and while the Europeans want good relations with us, they will
not go to war with Iran unless they know that an exhaustive negotiating
effort was made by Bush. There's just too much involved, like the price
of oil. There will be great pressure put on the Europeans, but I don't
think they'll roll over and support a war."
The Europeans, like the
generals at the Pentagon, are concerned about the quality of intelligence.
A senior European intelligence official said that while "there
was every reason to assume" that the Iranians were working on a
bomb, there wasn't enough evidence to exclude the possibility that they
were bluffing, and hadn't moved beyond a civilian research program.
The intelligence official was not optimistic about the current negotiations.
"It's a mess, and I don't see any possibility, at the moment, of
solving the problem," he said. "The only thing to do is contain
it. The question is, What is the redline? Is it when you master the
nuclear fuel cycle? Or is it just about building a bomb?" Every
country had a different criterion, he said. One worry he had was that,
in addition to its security concerns, the Bush Administration was driven
by its interest in "democratizing" the region. "The United
States is on a mission," he said.
A European diplomat told
me that his government would be willing to discuss Iran's security concerns
- a dialogue he said Iran offered Washington three years ago. The diplomat
added that "no one wants to be faced with the alternative if the
negotiations don't succeed: either accept the bomb or bomb them. That's
why our goal is to keep the pressure on, and see what Iran's answer
A second European diplomat,
speaking of the Iranians, said, "Their tactic is going to be to
stall and appear reasonable - to say, 'Yes, but . . .' We know what's
going on, and the timeline we're under. The Iranians have repeatedly
been in violation of I.A.E.A. safeguards and have given us years of
coverup and deception. The international community does not want them
to have a bomb, and if we let them continue to enrich that's throwing
in the towel - giving up before we talk." The diplomat went on,
"It would be a mistake to predict an inevitable failure of our
strategy. Iran is a regime that is primarily concerned with its own
survival, and if its existence is threatened it would do whatever it
needed to do - including backing down."
The Iranian regime's calculations
about its survival also depend on internal political factors. The nuclear
program is popular with the Iranian people, including those - the young
and the secular - who are most hostile to the religious leadership.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, has effectively used the
program to rally the nation behind him, and against Washington. Ahmadinejad
and the ruling clerics have said that they believe Bush's goal is not
to prevent them from building a bomb but to drive them out of office.
Several current and former
officials I spoke to expressed doubt that President Bush would settle
for a negotiated resolution of the nuclear crisis. A former high-level
Pentagon civilian official, who still deals with sensitive issues for
the government, said that Bush remains confident in his military decisions.
The President and others in the Administration often invoke Winston
Churchill, both privately and in public, as an example of a politician
who, in his own time, was punished in the polls but was rewarded by
history for rejecting appeasement. In one speech, Bush said, Churchill
"seemed like a Texan to me. He wasn't afraid of public-opinion
polls.... He charged ahead, and the world is better for it."
The Israelis have insisted
for years that Iran has a clandestine program to build a bomb, and will
do so as soon as it can. Israeli officials have emphasized that their
"redline" is the moment Iran masters the nuclear fuel cycle,
acquiring the technical ability to produce weapons-grade uranium. "Iran
managed to surprise everyone in terms of the enrichment capability,"
one diplomat familiar with the Israeli position told me, referring to
Iran's announcement, this spring, that it had successfully enriched
uranium to the 3.6-per-cent level needed to fuel a nuclear-power reactor.
The Israelis believe that Iran must be stopped as soon as possible,
because, once it is able to enrich uranium for fuel, the next step -
enriching it to the ninety-per-cent level needed for a nuclear bomb
- is merely a mechanical process.
Israeli intelligence, however,
has also failed to provide specific evidence about secret sites in Iran,
according to current and former military and intelligence officials.
In May, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Washington and, addressing
a joint session of Congress, said that Iran "stands on the verge
of acquiring nuclear weapons" that would pose "an existential
threat" to Israel. Olmert noted that Ahmadinejad had questioned
the reality of the Holocaust, and he added, "It is not Israel's
threat alone. It is a threat to all those committed to stability in
the Middle East and to the well-being of the world at large." But
at a secret intelligence exchange that took place at the Pentagon during
the visit, the Pentagon consultant said, "what the Israelis provided
fell way short" of what would be needed to publicly justify preventive
The issue of what to do,
and when, seems far from resolved inside the Israeli government. Martin
Indyk, a former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who is now the director of
the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, told
me, "Israel would like to see diplomacy succeed, but they're worried
that in the meantime Iran will cross a threshold of nuclear know-how
- and they're worried about an American military attack not working.
They assume they'll be struck first in retaliation by Iran." Indyk
added, "At the end of the day, the United States can live with
Iranian, Pakistani, and Indian nuclear bombs - but for Israel there's
no Mutual Assured Destruction. If they have to live with an Iranian
bomb, there will be a great deal of anxiety in Israel, and a lot of
tension between Israel and Iran, and between Israel and the U.S."
Iran has not, so far, officially
answered President Bush's proposal. But its initial response has been
dismissive. In a June 22nd interview with the Guardian, Ali Larijani,
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, rejected Washington's demand that Iran
suspend all uranium enrichment before talks could begin. "If they
want to put this prerequisite, why are we negotiating at all?"
Larijani said. "We should put aside the sanctions and give up all
this talk about regime change." He characterized the American offer
as a "sermon," and insisted that Iran was not building a bomb.
"We don't want the bomb," he said. Ahmadinejad has said that
Iran would make a formal counterproposal by August 22nd, but last week
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader, declared, on
state radio, "Negotiation with the United States has no benefits
Despite the tough rhetoric,
Iran would be reluctant to reject a dialogue with the United States,
according to Giandomenico Picco, who, as a representative of the United
Nations, helped to negotiate the ceasefire that ended the Iran-Iraq
War, in 1988. "If you engage a superpower, you feel you are a superpower,"
Picco told me. "And now the haggling in the Persian bazaar begins.
We are negotiating over a carpet" - the suspected weapons program
- "that we're not sure exists, and that we don't want to exist.
And if at the end there never was a carpet it'll be the negotiation
of the century."
If the talks do break down,
and the Administration decides on military action, the generals will,
of course, follow their orders; the American military remains loyal
to the concept of civilian control. But some officers have been pushing
for what they call the "middle way," which the Pentagon consultant
described as "a mix of options that require a number of Special
Forces teams and air cover to protect them to send into Iran to grab
the evidence so the world will know what Iran is doing." He added
that, unlike Rumsfeld, he and others who support this approach were
under no illusion that it could bring about regime change. The goal,
he said, was to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the director
general of the I.A.E.A., said in a speech this spring that his agency
believed there was still time for diplomacy to achieve that goal. "We
should have learned some lessons from Iraq," ElBaradei, who won
the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said. "We should have learned
that we should be very careful about assessing our intelligence....
We should have learned that we should try to exhaust every possible
diplomatic means to solve the problem before thinking of any other enforcement
He went on, "When you
push a country into a corner, you are always giving the driver's seat
to the hard-liners.... If Iran were to move out of the nonproliferation
regime altogether, if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon program,
we clearly will have a much, much more serious problem."