I can’t quite believe the IC agrees with something that Paul Kerr and I have been arguing was possible for years — that the bureaucratic consolidation undertaken in late 2003 may have choked off the clandestine program, at least for now. I mean, we were just making educated guesses.
I made this argument in a July 2005 blog post, pointing to a speech about Iranian decision-making by Hassan Rowhani that I called “wonkporn” and suggesting that the bureaucratic reorganization undertaken by Khatami might later been seen as the “beginning [of] a process of negotiations that constrained his more hardline successor.”
Paul made the argument, more eloquently, in Divided from Within in the November 2006 The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
Indeed, while Iran probably pursued nuclear weapons in the past, a plausible reading of the evidence suggests that Tehran could be pursuing a different course. A critical turning point came in 2003, when IAEA investigations began to reveal the full extent of Iran’s clandestine activities. The IAEA Board of Governors, pushed by the United States, considered referring Iran’s case to the U.N. Security Council, a move that could have resulted in punitive measures.
Iran was publicly defiant and resisted cooperating with the IAEA investigation. Yet internally, there were signs that the government was anxious to avoid a potential confrontation with the United Nations. In an apparent attempt to facilitate cooperation with the IAEA, Iran consolidated decision-making authority over its nuclear program around October 2003. Hassan Rowhani, who was the head of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC)—Iran’s top decision-making body on security-related issues—was put in charge of nuclear diplomacy. Previously, oversight of the issue had been divided between Iran’s Foreign Ministry and its Atomic Energy Organization.
Presumably, the IC has additional evidence confirming what we were able to infer from the bureaucratic changes revealed in Rowhani’s speech.
Oh, and looks like they are sticking to 2010-2015.