A contrarian on the Iran NIE

As soon as the new NIE on Iran hit, I thought of the many emails I'd received over the years from former colleague and Reaganite Gordon Prather, on this subject. Prather is an expert in nuclear physics (see his bio below). He was once vividly described by Jude Wanniski as a genius on the level of Einstein, who looked like he'd been raised by wild wolves, and who still plays a mean game of ice hockey.

Gordon's emails were dense with rich information: detailed, complex, provocative, fact-filled, logical -and they often veered from what everybody else in the world was saying.

His conclusions don't sit comfortably with many folks' political beliefs, but his explanatory reporting of technical and policy issues is worthy of close attention. He frequently caught out mainstream media in acts of gross misreporting on the subject -perhaps due to journalists not understanding basics of nuclear physics and IAEA policy when they were reporting. Misreporting on key foreign policy issues then creates something of a societal/institutional false memory as it trickles down to the governmental and NGO level, to think tanks, to pundits, then to individuals who align their minds with the ex cathedra statements of their favorite sources.

For a short take on Prather's views, you can listen to his recent interview with Scott Horton here.

Prather expects that the IAEA's report -due before the end of the year -will state Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, and that part of the NIE strategy was to work in an official statement that Iran had previously done so. Prather also believes the IAEA will state that the "stolen laptop," and its reference to the "Green Salt Project," never contained credible evidence of a nuclear weapons program. (Re-entry vehicle vs. nuke warhead.) In this view, most media are missing a large part of the significance of the NIE.

Prather makes a good point regarding the allegations of a secret project to create uranium tetrafluoride really don't make any sense, considering that was allegedly happening at the same time that the operating Ishafon plant could create uranium hexafluoride.

About Gordon Prather:

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Ok. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The NIE is bland, and vague and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Pundits will busily write absolutist statements though in its wake ("It's all true." "None of it is true."), though none have access to classified intelligence.

And that's a waste of time.

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