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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Israel has specific intelligence on an Iranian nuclear weapon?

The Sunday Times of London is reporting that Israel has specific intelligence on an Iranian nuclear weapon "on a par" with the intelligence that led it to discover and destroy a Syrian nuclear reactor last September. The report is part of a larger report on the visit of the head of Britain's MI6 to Israel for a strategic dialogue.
There is mounting concern in Israel that Iran’s nuclear capability may be far more advanced than was recognised in a declassified assessment by the US National Intelligence Estimate last December, which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons development programme in 2003 in response to international pressure.

One source claimed the new information was on a par with intelligence that led Israel to discover and then destroy a partly constructed nuclear reactor in Syria last September.

Israeli officials believe the US will revise its analysis of Iran’s programme. “We expect the Americans to amend their report soon,” a high-ranking military officer said last week.

Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, briefed Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, on Israel’s findings during talks on the Middle East in London last week. Israeli intelligence officers, en route from Washington where they had been outlining their latest information to American officials, joined Livni for the briefing.

It is thought that if Israel were considering military action against Iran over its nuclear programme, it would want to ensure it had diplomatic support in London and Washington because of the danger of triggering a wider Middle East conflict.

“We’re doing a lot of things about Iran,” Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, said last week. “We say we shouldn’t rule out any option. Not ruling out options means action, but the worst thing to do at the moment is to talk [about it].” Whitehall officials said Scarlett’s visit was “routine”.
Ordinarily I would have dismissed this report with the caveat that it was written by the Times' often hysterical Jerusalem correspondent Uzi Mahnaimi. I'm not doing that this time because of another report that appeared in many places on Thursday and Friday.
Iran could be just months away from fully mastering nuclear technology, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Thursday, citing intelligence estimates.

“The Iranians could cross the technological line within a relatively short time, within months, before the end of the year,” he told army radio.

“We have to prepare for that scenario,” said Mofaz, who was speaking while on an official visit to the United States.
Mofaz is a former defense minister and former Chief of Staff of the IDF. I give him far more credibility than I would give Mahnaimi alone. But Mahnaimi's report fits in with Mofaz's warning. I believe it's for real this time.

For those who wonder why the Iranian bill is at the top of this post, look closely and you will see the nuclear symbol in the background.


At 10:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

With Israel being placed in a perilous situation, Ehud Olmert is dithering. Does Israel have to wait til Iran actually gets the bomb before responding? By then, it will be too late.


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