According to Drudge, the New York Times is set to publish a report tomorrow asserting that the US government inadvertently helped Iran further its nuclear program by posting the Iraqi nuke documents online:
NYT REPORTING FRIDAY, SOURCES SAY: U.S. POSTING OF IRAQ NUKE DOCS ON WEB COULD HAVE HELPED IRAN…
Federal government set up Web site — Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal — to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war; detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research; a ‘basic guide to building an atom bomb’… Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency fear the information could help Iran develop nuclear arms… contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that the nuclear experts say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums…
Website now shut… Developing…
If this posted information was that helpful to Iran, that would mean that Saddam was further along in his nuclear program than people may have thought.
Allahpundit seems to be thinking the same thing and also wonders why the IAEA is so worried that Iran would use bomb making information if its nuclear program was supposedly “peaceful.”
Update: Here’s the article. And note that the Times puts the blame directly on the Republicans in Congress just five days out of the midterm elections.
Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
The director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, had resisted setting up the Web site, which some intelligence officials felt implicitly raised questions about the competence and judgment of government analysts. But President Bush approved the site’s creation after Congressional Republicans proposed legislation to force the documents’ release.
And it looks like Iraq in fact was much closer to building a nuclear bomb than originally thought:
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990’s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.
Ace is unimpressed:
Iran doesn’t need any advice about building a bomb. The basics of it are well known. And the A.Q. Khan network acted as a nuclear Johnny Appleseed throughout the Islamic world (and NK, too!).
So, there’s your “huge” story:
Iraq had advanced plans to build a bomb (but it was no threat to build a bomb!) and Bush is horrible because he let those plans be posted on line, which Iran may use to build a bomb (but we also don’t have to worry about them building a bomb, so don’t get any tricky ideas about bombing them!).
Update II: This story is taking a turn I’m certain the New York Times did not expect. Jim Geraghty explains and hits this nail squarely on the head:
I’m sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?
What? Wait a minute. The entire mantra of the war critics has been “no WMDs, no WMDs, no threat, no threat”, for the past three years solid. Now we’re being told that the Bush administration erred by making public information that could help any nation build an atomic bomb.
Let’s go back and clarify: IRAQ HAD NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANS SO ADVANCED AND DETAILED THAT ANY COUNTRY COULD HAVE USED THEM.
I think the Times editors are counting on this being spun as a “Boy, did Bush screw up” meme; the problem is, to do it, they have to knock down the “there was no threat in Iraq” meme, once and for all. Because obviously, Saddam could have sold this information to anybody, any other state, or any well-funded terrorist group that had publicly pledged to kill millions of Americans and had expressed interest in nuclear arms. You know, like, oh… al-Qaeda.
The New York Times just tore the heart out of the antiwar argument, and they are apparently completely oblivous to it.
The antiwar crowd is going to have to argue that the information somehow wasn’t dangerous in the hands of Saddam Hussein, but was dangerous posted on the Internet. It doesn’t work. It can’t be both no threat to America and yet also somehow a threat to America once it’s in the hands of Iran. Game, set, and match.
My oh my, this is getting quite interesting.
Update III: Blue Crab Boulevard is also weighing in:
While I am not an expert on nuclear weapons, per se, I have a fair bit of knowledge about them and have an extensive background in the nuclear energy field. I can say, with certainty, that you do not learn helpful information in developing technology by looking at someone who is not as far along as you are. That means Iraq was further along than Iran.
Let me put this another way: You cannot simultaneously hold the position that Saddam did not have WMD programs and that he had advanced knowledge of nuclear weapons that would be of use to Iran. You cannot simultaneously believe Iran has a peaceful nuclear program and a need for advanced knowledge of nuclear weapons.
Update IV: The New York Times has a history of springing Iraq surprises just before an election. Remember this?:
Yesterday, the New York Times did a fine service for the Kerry campaign by publishing a carefully timed hit piece describing how tons of explosives have gone missing from a site in Iraq.
This morning, the story is imploding, with NBC News leading the charge to point out that the explosives were already gone when U.S. troops arrived just a day after the fall of Baghdad. (Bizarrely, CNN has this as their lead story online, and it is nowhere to be found on MSNBC’s front page. Update: Here’s the MSNBC story.).
Hat tip: Ian.