The intelligence services would probably be in a better position to make an assessment of the advancement of the Iranian nuclear program than Podhoretz or Ledeen. They don't have access to any specific information. So for them to dismiss it has no great value because they have no authority whatsoever on this issue. For them to push forward with their efforts to get a war started between the U.S. and Iran, you certainly cannot say that Iran does not have a nuclear program. If you say that, then the justification for war has basically been eliminated.
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The United States has weakened itself with Iraq; Iranians feel victorious - they feel capable of filling the void. I think from the very outset the nuclear issue has been secondary to the more strategic outlook, in which the United States has, since 1991, pursued a policy that it cannot permit any country in the region to become too powerful and challenge American hegemony.
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I do believe that the very tense relationship between the United States and Iran presents a challenge to the United States. But to discuss Iran as that type of a threat I find somewhat unconvincing, mindful of the fact that Iran actually doesn't have those military capabilities that would be needed to refer to it as that type of threat.
Beyond that is the fear that the United States will end up negotiating and agreeing to a deal with Iran. The Israelis do not like that either because they fear the deal will come at the expense of Israel's security interests. From an Israeli perspective, the NIE makes the risk of some sort of settlement much greater.