Responses to the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran halting its nuclear-weapons program in 2003.

Ed Aguilar

Philadelphia

Projectfornuclearawareness

@gmail.com

Even though Iran halted nuclear-weapons work four years ago (Inquirer, Dec. 4), we've had a steady beating of the war drums because of claims of such a program by the Bush administration. Most recently, they claimed a danger of World War III in the making.

What in the world may be going on? We can't fully know. What we

do

know is that this National Intelligence Estimate, from the CIA and 15 other national intelligence agencies, should have been revealed a long time ago.

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz has said that he faced "tougher" opposition from within the U.S. defense bureaucracy than from the Soviets themselves when it came to reaching nuclear-arms reduction agreements in the time of Ronald Reagan's presidency. This may be true again, especially in the office of Vice President Cheney.

Let's stop painting ourselves into a corner. Yes, we should be vigilant of dangers from Iran and elsewhere. But no, that is not a reason to start another war over nonexistent WMD. And no, it is not a sign of weakness to talk to our enemies - rather, it is a sign of wisdom and practicality. It's how we ended the Cold War, to the benefit of all. As for the voters, ask the candidates: Do they stand for negotiations or war with Iran and other adversaries?

David Crimmins

Hatfield

The headline "Iran halted nuclear work" (Inquirer, Dec. 4) is misleading. Iran did not halt nuclear work. It seems it just made a smart move to hold off on bomb building.

If a country wants to develop nuclear-weapons capability, it has to do two things before it ever gets around to building a bomb. The first is the enrichment process. This is very complicated and time consuming. Iran is actively doing this. The second area is weapons delivery. You need missiles, planes and/or terrorist organizations willing to attempt to smuggle the device into the target area. Iran already has missiles and is working to make them better. It is the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism so it has a ready network of willing smugglers. Once Iran enriches enough uranium, there are plenty of engineers who could build a bomb in short order.

It seems to me that it is still excellent foreign policy to keep the international pressure on Iran to discontinue its enrichment activities and to maintain the policy of the United States that Iran must not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons.

David W. Long

West Chester

The secondary headline on Dec. 5 stated that while the new intelligence reports on Iran "jolted foreign capitals, Bush said he saw no reason to change his course."

How many times have we heard this from this obstructive administration? Is it really in that much of a state of denial and removed from reality? If this is what "neoconservatives" offer our great nation and the wider world, it is fitting they have been so criticized by the public and need to be replaced by far more wise, responsive and vital leadership.

Neil Goldstein

Media

President Bush says Iran will be dangerous if it gets "the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon" (Inquirer, Dec. 5). He also says that Mike McConnell, his national intelligence director, told him in August that there was "new information" about Iran, but that he "didn't tell me what it was."

However, Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, says Bush knew before making his threatening "World War III" remarks about Iran in October that its nuclear-weapons program apparently had been halted in 2003. Now Bush says his Iran policy remains the same, despite the new NIE report that blows away the 2005 report that asserted the weapons program was in operation.

Put all this together and it becomes clear that when it comes to threatening another war in the Mideast, Bush either doesn't know or doesn't care about the facts. That's really dangerous.

Robert W. Breiling

Malvern

Since it took us four years to discover that Iran had stopped work on a nuclear-weapons program, this means that if they started work on a nuclear weapon today we would not learn about it until 2011.

James F. Davis

Gulph Mills

We have learned through bitter experience that President Bush is more interested in ideology than truth - global warming, evolution vs. "intelligent design," abstinence education, WMD in Iraq among many examples. But the latest reports about the supposed nuclear-weapons program in Iran makes clear that either he was lying to us in order to scare us into a possible attack when he talked about World War III - thereby diverting attention from health care, Iraq and the mortgage meltdown, among other real issues - or he had so little curiosity about the intelligence reports that he went about his doomsday scenarios without checking the facts. I don't know which is worse, a president who lies or a president who blunders ahead without bothering to find out the truth before speaking.