Given how unreliable American intelligence sources had been with respect to the threat presented by al Qaeda prior to September 11th (they were lighting up like
X-mas Christmas trees, except that the Bush Administration wasn't interested) or regarding the threat posed by Iraqi WMDs (again, they concluded that contentions of Saddam's WMDs were both unsupported by actual evidence and the sources were extremely unreliable)... there seems no reason whatsoever to accept the current consensus of the intelligence community, i.e., the news that the latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. (As always, digby has a thoughtful and thorough analysis of these issues, the nub being "Neocons are now and have always been wrong, without exception, and they're wrong on this too.") I mean, just ask the Bush Administration: they will, naturally, tell us that Iran's halting its weapons program makes it a bigger threat than ever!
Needless to say, reality bites... this will almost certainly throw a great deal of cold water on proposed military strikes on purported Iranian heavy water... or whatever it is we claim that Iran is up to... the public is not buying the "things are going great in Iraq" line as it is, and certainly, will be unbelievably skeptical of doubling the failed Iraq bet against a far better organized Iran.
Which, we have just concluded, is not engaged in nuclear weapons development. I mean, if the North Koreans actually make a nuclear deal stick, that will be the whole Axis of EvilTM having either never had, or at least halted, its weapons programs, while Our Trusted AllyTM Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan, besides hosting al Qaeda leadership, continues his own nuclear program as well as proliferating to God knows where (and, boys and girls, the whole point is that even if we were to do the unthinkable and play right into al Qaeda's desires that we alienate not merely the Islamic world but the entire rest of the world with a gratuitous attack on Iran... Pakistan could just re-outfit it for a nuclear weapons program in a short time anyway!!!)
I understand there is grave concern in Israeli quarters about this, insofar as it certainly looks like we're not going to fulfill the fantasies of the Israeli right and attack Iran for it... but then, after the bill of goods Israeli intelligence sold us vis a vis Iraq (or correction, helped sell enough of the Jewish community to go along with the proposition that the attack on Iraq would somehow help Israel, rather than utterly destabilize the Middle East in a way that may ultimately lead to disaster for Israel)... let's just say that I think after that performance, its clear that the Neocon/Israel alliance... is simply not something we should pay any attention to, unless, of course, we intend to do things that undermine the interests of both the United States, and Israel itself for that matter.
And there you have it. Iran, which had gratuitously offered not only to halt its nuclear weapons program, but to effectively deactivate Hizbollah and other Islamist militant groups, and help us deal with both Iraq and al Qaeda, in exchange for diplomatic recognition and a non-aggression pact... instead got gratuitously lumped into an "Axis of EvilTM" because we needed something for a State of the Union Speech that sounded cool... appears to have halted its nuclear weapons program anyway.
As Winnie the Pooh might say... oh, bother.