International Reaction to the NIE: OSC

The USG Open Source Center surveys Iranian, German, French, and Israeli reactions to the US National Intelligence Estimate that holds that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. One is struck by the Israeli reactions, on both sides of the aisle. Former Labor prime minister Ehud Barak dismissed the report.

OSC Report: NIE on Iran Draws Mixed Reaction From Perm-5, Israel, Tehran
International — OSC Report
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

International — Iranian Officials Say NIE on Iran Vindicates Tehran; European, Israeli Officials Stress Need for Continued Efforts To Prevent a Nuclear Iran Iranian officials predictably claimed that the NIE on Iran proves that US claims that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons were “baseless,” with a Government spokesman suggesting that Washington should pay for “disadvantages” its “lies” caused. Officials in the UK, France, Germany, and Israel stressed the need for a firm approach toward Iran, while official comment from Russia and China called on Iran to continue to cooperate with the IAEA.

Taking the same tack as yesterday’s media commentary, Iranian officials on 4 December portrayed the estimate as validating Tehran’s assertion that its nuclear program is peaceful.

In Iran’s most authoritative comment to date, Government Spokesman Gholam Hoseyn Elham called the NIE a “US Government confession of its mistakes” and said the US should “pay for the disadvantages” it caused (ISNA).

Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hoseyni described past US claims as “baseless” and called on the Europeans to “adopt fair approaches, make just judgments, and choose logical solutions” (ISNA).

Official statements from the EU-3 called for maintaining international pressure on Iran, pointing to the positive effects of the sanctions to date.

The German Foreign Minister said that the report offered an “opportunity to give new dynamism to the nuclear talks with Iran,” adding that “only a firm position by the international community can persuade Iran to follow path of confidence-building” (Foreign Ministry website, 4 December).

A French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stressed that the international community “must maintain pressure on Iran.” Paris believes that a new “constraining (UN) resolution” is necessary, she added (AFP, 4 December).

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Brown said that Iran’s nuclear program poses a “serious” security threat and that, “in overall terms,” the government believes London was “right” to be “worried” about it. Another report quoted the spokesman as saying that “the sanctions program and international pressure has had some effect” (AFP, AP, 4 December).

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for firm efforts against Iran, stressing the need to “pursue efforts” to prevent Iran from developing a weapons capability (Ha’aretz, 4 December). Defense Minister Ehud Baraq expressed skepticism about the NIE’s judgments suggesting that Iran has “probably since revived” its weapons efforts, and noting that Israel “cannot allow ourselves to rest because of an intelligence report from the other side of the earth, even if it is from our greatest friend (IDF Radio, 4 December). PRC

Foreign Ministry officials’ remarks following the release of the NIE suggested that China may be prepared to press Iran to maintain dialogue with the international community, but avoided explicitly mentioning sanctions.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman did not respond directly to a question on new sanctions during a 4 December news conference, saying only that China’s stance on the “Iran nuclear issue” is “consistent,” and that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had “reiterated” China’s “principled stance” to Secretary Rice (Foreign Ministry website).
He added that China “hopes” Iran will “cooperate” with the IAEA, “clarify unresolved issues,” and “create advantageous conditions” for “starting negotiations.”

Kremlin ally and chair of Russia’s Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee, Margelov claimed that the NIE showed that Russia was “correct in its unbiased approach toward Iran’s nuclear issue” (Agentstvo Natsionalnykh Novostey, 4 December). Although not commenting directly on the NIE’s release, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his meeting with the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Sa’id Jalili in Moscow, expressed the “hope” that all of Iran’s nuclear programs will be “open and transparent and will be carried out with monitoring “by the IAEA (Prime-TASS, 4 December). ‘

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