[Congressional Record: December 4, 2007 (Senate)]
[Page S14729-S14730]


  Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, yesterday the Director of National 
Intelligence, Admiral Mike McConnell, released the National 
Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear weapons program. This NIE, 
which represents the best collective judgment of all 16 U.S. 
intelligence agencies, told us:

       Our intelligence community has concluded with high 
     confidence that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 

  This is a major reversal of the intelligence community's previous 
intelligence assessment in 2005 that Iran was determined to develop 
nuclear weapons. The NIE states that the nuclear weapons program was 
halted primarily in response to international pressure, which suggests 
that Iran may be more vulnerable to influence.
  Perhaps most significant is the DNI's conclusion that some 
combination of threats of intensified scrutiny and pressures, along 
with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and 
goals might prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear 
weapons program.
  I commend Admiral McConnell and his colleagues for their decision to 
release unclassified conclusions (pdf) based on this current intelligence. I 
do not believe we can overstate the importance of this new information.
  The effects of this NIE will be felt here, at the United Nations, 
throughout Europe, across the entire Middle East, the world, and in 
  The NIE closely parallels many of the conclusions of the Internal 
Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, the international organization, with 
the most direct on-the-ground access to Iran's nuclear facilities. Once 
again, the facts appear to be bearing out the conclusions of the IAEA. 
This NIE, as well as the IAEA's analysis, should help inform and shape 
U.S. strategy on Iran.
  President Bush has a responsibility to carefully consider the policy 
implications concerning Iran with this new information, and I know he 
will. He said in his news conference this morning that this new 
information which he has confidence in would be factored into our 
policy regarding Iran.
  The United States must pursue a clear and strategic policy toward 

[[Page S14730]]

based on this new intelligence and fact-based assessment to avoid the 
disastrous mistakes of Iraq. Yesterday's NIE does not invalidate the 
effectiveness of previous efforts to use an international consensus of 
pressure on Iran. We must be careful not to run from one end of the 
pendulum all the way to the other.
  As President Bush noted again this morning, the United States must 
continue to work with our friends and our allies to sustain an 
international consensus on Iran. I believe the President is correct: 
alliances, common purpose, common interests, focus, discipline.
  Iran's objectionable words and actions are real, and they must 
continue to be addressed. That means a very clear-eyed and realistic 
sense of Iran and its motives. As I said in my November 8 CSIS speech 
regarding U.S.-Iran policy, the United States must employ a 
comprehensive strategy regarding Iran: Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian 
issue, the Middle East, a regional comprehensive strategy.
  Yesterday's NIE reinforces the need for directed, unconditional, and 
comprehensive engagement with Iran. The United States and the 
international community must use all--all--elements of our foreign 
policy arsenal in offering direct, unconditional, and comprehensive 
talks with Iran. The United States should be clear that all issues, our 
issues and Iran's issues, are on the table, including offering Iran a 
credible way back from the fringes of the international community, 
security guarantees, and other incentives.
  We urgently need to adopt a comprehensive strategy on Iran that is 
focused on direct engagement and diplomacy backed, as diplomacy must 
always be backed, by the leverage of international pressure, isolation, 
containment, and military options.
  The United States must employ wise statecraft to redirect deepening 
tensions with Iran toward a higher ground of resolution. That is what 
Annapolis was about last week. America is the great power here. Iran is 
not the great power. We must be the more mature country in testing the 
proposition that the United States and Iran can overcome decades of 
mutual mistrust, suspicion, and hostility.
  That is diplomacy. Diplomacy is not talking to your friends; 
diplomacy is not giving another country bonus points for us talking to 
them. There is a reason for diplomacy. We should not squander this 
opportunity as we did in the spring of 2003 when we had an opportunity 
for an opening to explore talks with Iran.
  This initiative, by the way, in 2003, came from Iran. We are 
witnessing a confluence of events in the Middle East and around the 
world that presents the United States with new opportunities. There are 
hopeful and positive recent developments: Progress on North Korea's 
nuclear weapons program; the recent regional meeting in Istanbul on 
Iraq; the momentum generated by last week's Annapolis Middle East 
meeting where all Arab countries, including Syria, sat at the same 
table with Israel; and yesterday's NIE assessment.
  Now is the time for America to act and to lead, and to lead boldly, 
with confidence, with our allies, focusing on a common purpose.
  One dimensional optics, policies, and blunt black-or-white rhetoric, 
such as ``you are either with us or you are against us'' will not work, 
haven't worked, and will fall short of what is expected from American 
leadership in the eyes of the world.
  The world faces challenges and opportunities today that carry with it 
implications well beyond this moment in time. American leadership is 
once again being called on at yet another transformational time in 
history to help set a new course, a new framework for a rudderless 
world drifting in a sea of combustible dangers.
  In engaging Iran, the Middle East, and the world, we must be wide in 
our scope, clear in our purpose, measured in our words, and strong in 
our actions. Yesterday's NIE should not be overstated, but it also must 
not be undervalued in shaping future policy with Iran and in the Middle 
  Make no mistake, the NIE sets in motion a series of ripple effects 
that will have serious consequences. This should be welcome news for 
the United States and the world.
  Mr. President, I thank you, yield the floor, and suggest the absence 
of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Whitehouse). The clerk will call the roll 
of the Senate.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.