White House: Suspicion of nukes was unverified

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Iran

\ Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell told the president that the report was a confirmation of their suspicions that Iran had an active nuclear weapons program, White House press secretary Dana Perino said, in a statement e-mailed out to reporters this evening.\

\ The DNI also said that the new information “might cause the intelligence community to change its assessment of Iran’s covert nuclear program, but the intelligence community was not prepared to draw any conclusions at that point in time, and it wouldn’t be right to speculate until they had time to examine and analyze the new data,” Mrs. Perino said.\

\ “[Mr. McConnell] said that if the new information turns out to be true, what we thought we knew for sure is right. Iran does in fact have a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended,” Mrs. Perino said. \

\ “The Director advised that there were many streams of information that had the potential to be in conflict, and it would take more time to vet it all to determine validity,” she said. \

\ The National Intelligence Estimate released Tuesday is seen by many as a rebuke to the president’s rhetoric suggesting that the threat of a nuclear Iran was imminent. \

\ But the White House maintains that the report simply tells them what they suspected — that Iran had a covert weapons program — and something they didn\0x2019t suspect — that the program had been suspended. \

\ Mrs. Perino said the premise for Mr. McConnell’s briefing was to tell Mr. Bush that the intelligence community would not be able to meet a “congressionally imposed deadline” for a report on Iran, because they were still sifting through their new information.\

\ — Jon Ward, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

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