IT’S disconcerting to say the least: watching the National Intelligence Estimate be spun from a report saying Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 into broad – even jubilant – conclusions that Iran has therefore ceased to be a threat. Last week I sat down with America’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, in the wake of the NIE fallout, and as the U.S. prepared a draft resolution calling for a third round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. The ambassador noted that there were regional events in 2003 that would have freaked out any naughty regime: the coalition’s entrance into Iraq, and Libya bowing to pressure to fess and up and give up its weapons of mass destruction. “We will argue that the NIE dealt with the covert, undeclared weapons program,” Khalilzad said. “…The Libyans came clean on their program and Iran, fearing possible discovery of their program, stopped or suspended their covert program.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champSimilar pressure now, he said, is key to averting a nuclear buildup later. Because the question is not about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his blatant ramblings about the destruction of Israel, but about the ayatollah and mullahocracy that pull Ahmadinejad’s strings. And one can’t say Iran is not a dangerous regime. Like how Iran has been arming terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan – a way of fighting us by proxy. “In Iraq, we’re doing two things: we’re pressuring the Iranian networks that bring in weapons and at the same time we’re having discussions with the Iranians about Iraq,” Khalilzad said. “…There are some indications that they may have adjusted their policy recently in a more positive direction. But we would want to see a lot more of that and we want it to be sustained. “In regards to Afghanistan, there, too, we go after the network … that brings in the Iranian weapons,” he said. The fact still remains that Iran is blithely in violation of the Security Council resolutions on its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, and uranium can be used for malignant purposes as well as benign energy production. “We must get ready to rule the world,” Ahmadinejad said last year. “…The Islamic government in Iran is the prerequisite for a worldwide Islamic state.” And in that quest, Ahmadinejad has gotten cozy with other rogue, would-be totalitarian world rulers, like meetings with neo-Marxist regimes in Latin America that puts Iranian interests a little too close to the border of the “Great Satan” for comfort. “We know that the Middle East for us is geopolitically the most difficult and the most important region,” Khalilzad said. “In Iran, of course, there’s the sanction threat because it wants to dominate the region, … because of its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan that we talked about, because of its policies in Lebanon, its support for Hamas in Gaza and … its opposition to the peace process, its opposition to Israel’s existence, support for extremists and sometimes terrorist groups. Iran poses a threat in that theater.” The ambassador said Iran, Venezuela and Russia – a veto-wielder at the Security Council – currently share some common rhetorical ground. “But at the same time, as you say, they have these economic relations and military relationship in terms of supplying weapons, and we have been obviously engaging the Russians very intensely to get them to reduce that positive engagement and to use their influence to get Iran to suspend its nuclear program,” Khalilzad said. “And even … in the aftermath of NIE, the foreign minister was quoted as saying (President Vladimir) Putin told Mr. (Saeed) Jalili, who’s the lead negotiator, that they need to come into compliance with U.N. Security Council demands, which is positive.” NIE does not stand for “off the hook,” and it certainly doesn’t stand for “out of the woods.” The question of whether Iran restarted its nuclear weapons program after the 2003 suspension still remains, but in the meantime Iran and its American supporters will use the NIE as a political football and a propaganda victory. In the meantime, Iran can look forward to unwrapping its Christmas present – the next draft resolution regarding its fun with uranium – and work on retooling its rhetoric for the new year. “They have been asked by the international community, U.N. Security Council, to suspend (enrichment and reprocessing),” Khalilzad said. “Nothing with regard to what the NIE states.” Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News and blogs at insidesocal.com/friendlyfire. E-mail her at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!