Intel Estimates on Iran: Perspective, please
US Intellegence Estimates on the Iranian Nuclear Program declare Iran to be a decade away from nuclear weapons development. While it is ironic that even seemingly Iran-friendly Mohamed ElBaredei estimted little more than 2 years, the evaluation of the US NIE should first be considered within the confines of its own track record. James S. Robbins does precisely this in Time Bomb: The poor track record of atomic predictions. Just for starters...
Consider the track record of these estimates. When have they ever been correct? Usually when a country tests a nuclear weapon, the event shocks the world. This was true of India in 1974 and Pakistan in 1998. As well with China—an August 1964 National Intelligence Estimate of the chances of a Chinese nuclear detonation noted that a test site was being prepared at Lop Nor, and would be ready in two months. However, the CIA stated that the Chinese would not have the necessary fissionable material to finish a bomb, so they doubted anything would happen for the rest of the year. Sure enough, two months later, on October 16, 1964, the Chinese successfully tested a nuclear weapon. Something to keep in mind when the “lack of fissionable material” argument comes up with respect to Iran. [Emphasis Added]
We highlighted ElBaredei's stunningly short timeline in detail in a PrincipalAnalysis, The IAEA Tree That Fell and No One Heard, when it seemed no one else could be bothered. It remains significant.
Consider that December analysis in conjunction with James Robbins' latest. Today's Required Reading.