Our prime minister's concern regarding the Iranian threat to world peace has gotten a fair amount of attention in recent weeks. Stephen Harper insists both that Iran is definitely attempting to develop nuclear weapons and that the Iranians are fanatics who would use those weapons without hesitation. On the former, and despite what you'll hear from some, there really is no consensus in support of Harper's position.
Even as the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.
Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies.
That's 16 intelligence agencies who beg to differ with Stephen Harper. (And Aurel Braun — follow the first link above if you don't get the reference.)
That isn't to say that Iran isn't trying to develop the knowledge base necessary to acquire nuclear weapons quickly should they make the decision to do so, but that isn't the same thing as having an active weapons program. If it were we might be discussing sanctions on Japan, a country that has had that kind of virtual deterrent capability for years.
And while we're on the subject, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff recently made public remarks on the subject of Iran (among other things):
...we are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor
That's in sharp contrast to Harper's opinion that the Iranians are crazy enough to invite retaliation from countries whose nuclear arsenals are already extensive enough to destroy Iran many times over.
So is it our government's position that American intelligence is unreliable on other issues as well as this one? Could someone put the question to him and find out just how widely our two countries differ when it comes to threat assessments?