WASHINGTON - Observers from the right and left have told Haaretz that the report released a week ago, maintaining that Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003, will have no impact on U.S. public opinion or its effect will erode.The political-security cabinet will hold special deliberations on the report Sunday, as Israeli officials have conducted a quiet campaign aimed at exposing the National Intelligence Estimate's deficiencies.Some American observers told Haaretz those deficiencies would become increasingly apparent.
Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, told Haaretz Friday that the report ignored the uranium enrichment at the Iranian city of Natanz because this project was not secret.The congressman from California said the intelligence community was only interested in secrets, and the media simply focused on what was new.Sherman said that while the report effectively removed the military option for both Israel and the United States and complicated Russian and Chinese support for sanctions, a "pushback" against the report had begun.Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post stated that the report was an insufficient substitute for a clear signal that Iran intended to cooperate with the international community.The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal also questioned the report in their editorials. Gary Samore, an arms control expert in the Clinton administration, told The Los Angeles Times that the report had not sufficiently stressed Iran's uranium enrichment program.Anthony Lake, a former Clinton national security adviser and now adviser to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, focused on Iran's uranium enrichment activities and concerns over the fate of sanctions.Leonard Spector and James Martin of Center for Nonproliferation Studies shared the assessment of many Washington experts when they wrote that Iran has not stopped working toward its nuclearization goal, it has simply changed the order of its activities.The experts discuss whether the report's authors formulated it as they did because they want to stop the Bush administration from attacking Iran, or because they were simply unaware of the way the report would be received.Senior politicians are treading with caution. Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said he wanted to learn more about the report, while Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada said a Senate investigation committee should be established to study the paper.
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