As Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Israel Thursday, the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper dropped its own atomic bombshell.
Israeli intelligence agencies have worked up an intelligence assessment that Iran has not yet decided whether to begin a military program to construct a nuclear warhead. Put in other words, Mossad believes that there is no current Iranian nuclear weapons program. Haaretz writes:
“The intelligence assessment Israeli officials will present later this week to Dempsey indicates that Iran has not yet decided whether to make a nuclear bomb. The Israeli view is that while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.”........................
Why would the far right wing Likud government reverse itself like this?Cole's conjectures are apt, but it looks as if the entire Israeli government is not on board. Debka, a hawkish Israeli site, is headlining a story that Netanyahu disagrees with the intelligence finding and Barak and continues to press for military action.
It is the problem of reacting to contemporary events in real time that we just don’t have the inside story, and don’t know what has gone on behind the scenes.
But my guess is that President Barack Obama was deeply alarmed by the degree to which tensions with Iran had been ratcheted up, to the point that Tehran felt it necessary to make unrealistic threats about closing the Straits of Hormuz through which about a fifth of the world’s petroleum flows. Likewise, Washington appears to have been upset about the assassination of yet another Iranian scientist connected to the Isfahan enrichment program.
Despite Israeli attempts to spin the cancellation or postponement of US and Israeli joint military exercises as an Israeli initiative, they were more likely scotched from the American side to show displeasure or to avoid a provocation of Iran when Iran already seems pretty provoked. (Israel has much to gain and nothing to lose from conducting such joint exercises with the US army, insofar as it reinforces for the Middle East region US devotion to Israel’s security).
Benjamin Netanyahu declared Thursday night, Jan. 19 that Iran had decided to become a nuclear state. He urged action before it was too late to stop Iran completing the construction of a nuclear weapon. His statement at the end of a visit to Holland gave Gen Martin Dempsey, on his first visit to Israel as Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the message he will be asked to take back to President Barack Obama. It also contradicted Defense Minister Ehud Barak's statement that Tehran had not yet decided to go nuclear.
On Dec. 22, 2011, debkafile first revealed Tehran had reached a decision to go ahead and build a nuclear weapon.
Netanyahu has kept the Iranian cards close to his chest. His statement therefore caught wrong-footed the Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who in the last 48 hours had asserted that Iran had not yet decided whether to build a nuclear bomb and there was still time for US-led sanctions to work.