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Committee reviewing intelligence abilities on Iran

Senate panel says inaccurate data on Iraq motivated review


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee is taking a "proactive" review of U.S. intelligence capabilities in Iran, as the Bush administration's rhetorical pressure on the Islamist regime has increased in recent days, a spokeswoman for the committee chair said.

As part of the review, the committee is also looking at intelligence capabilities in North Korea and China, said Sarah Little, communications director for committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas.

She characterized the review as part of the "normal oversight" functions of the committee, but added that it was motivated due to skepticism regarding the accuracy of U.S. prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Committee staffers are examining the type of human intelligence and signal intelligence the United States is getting on Iran, as well as the quality and timeliness of the information, Little said.

A committee source said that terrorism and weapons proliferation were also subjects of the review, which was launched within the past few weeks.

Little said the committee had decided to "revamp" the way it performs intelligence oversight to avoid being relegated to the role of simply analyzing mistakes in hindsight.

"We learned from last year in Iraq and the goal is ... to be forward-thinking," she added. She called it a chance to "step back" and "analyze things as we go," instead of looking afterwards at what was done wrong.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a diplomatic trip to Europe and the Middle East, insisted Friday that the use of military force against Iran "is simply not on the agenda at this point in time."

Britain, France and Germany have been holding talks with Tehran in an attempt to have Iran's uranium-enrichment program permanently frozen.

"The Iranians need to be in compliance with their international obligations, and we have very good cooperation and discussions with our three European colleagues on a solid message to the Iranians that that is a necessity," Rice told reporters after her meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

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