Hard talk with US officials on Iran fails to move Israel from military option (DEBKAfile) Exclusive Report 02/20/12 12:53 PM (GMT+02:00)
White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon faced an
acrimonious Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in two hours of stormy
conversation in Jerusalem Sunday, Feb. 19, according to updates
reaching senior US sources in Washington. The main bones of
contention were Iran’s continuing enrichment of uranium and its
ongoing relocation of production to underground sites.
Israeli officials declined to give out any information on the
conversation. Some even refused to confirm it took place.
According to DEBKAfile’s sources, Netanyahu accused the Obama
administration of drawing Iran into resuming nuclear negotiations
with world powers by an assurance that Tehran would be allowed to
continue enriching uranium in any quantity, provided it promised not
to build an Iranian nuclear weapon. The prime minister charged that
this permit contravened US administration guarantees to Israel on the
nuclear issue and, moreover left Tehran free to upgrade its current
20 percent enrichment level to 90 percent weapons grade. This Israel
cannot tolerate, said Netanyahu, so leaving its military option on
He warned the US National Security Adviser that no evidence
whatsoever confirms Washington’s claim that Tehran intends suspending
enrichment and other nuclear advances when negotiations begin. Quite
the contrary: Even before the date was set, Iran started working at
top speed to build up its bargaining chips by laying down major
advances in its nuclear program as undisputed facts.
Tehran now claims to have progressed to self-reliance in the
production of 20 percent-enriched uranium, the basis for the weapons
grade fuel, in unlimited quantity. Once the talks are underway,
Netanyahu maintained, there would be no stopping the Iranians without
stalling the negotiating process. Going by past experience, Tehran
would use dialogue as an extra fulcrum for its impetus toward weapon
production without interruption.
Monday, Donilon and his delegation meet Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The mission of this high-powered US delegation in Israel takes place
to the accompanied of a resumed US media campaign for discouraging
Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear installations.
Sunday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of
Staff, offered this opinion to CNN: “Israel has the capability to
strike Iran and delay the Iranians probably for a couple of years.
But some of the targets are probably beyond their reach.”
Monday’s New York Times carried an assessment by “American defense
officials and military analysts close to the Pentagon” under the
caption, “Iran Raid Seen as a Huge Task for Israel Jets.” DEBKAfile’s
military sources report the main argument, dredged up from the past
and long refuted, is that Israeli Air Force bombers cannot cover the
distance to Iran without in-flight refueling.
That array of “analysts” apparently missed the CNN interview and
therefore contradicted the assessment of America’s own top general
that “Israel has the capability to strike Iran…”
Reality has meanwhile moved on. Four events in the last 24 hours no
doubt figured large in the US delegation’s talks with Israeli leaders:
1. Monday, the IAEA sent to Tehran its second team of monitors this
month for another attempt to gain access to nuclear facilities
hitherto barred by the Iranians. The inspectors will also demand
permission to interview scientists which according to a list drawn up
at the agency’s Vienna headquarters hold key positions in their
2. The Russian Chief of Chaff Gen. Nikolai Makarov estimated that the
attack on Iran would be “coordinated” by several governments and “a
decision would be made by the summer.”
3. Moscow recalled Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kutznetsov from
the Syrian port of Tartus to its home base at Severomorsk on the Kola
4. Turkey is beinding over backward to assure Iran that data
collected by the US missile shield radar stationed at its Kurecik air
base will not shared with Israel. It is especially anxious not to
annoy Tehran after foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced that
the resumed nuclear talks with the five Permanent Security Council
members and German (P5+1) would be held in Istanbul.
However, the Iranians certainly know exactly what is going on after
watching the recent joint US-Israeli radar test which demonstrated
that Israel is fully integrated in the missile shield radar network
and that the US radar station in the Israeli Negev interfaces with
its station in Turkey and Israel’s Arrow missile Green Pine radar.
When he visited Ankara last week, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen assured his Turkish hosts that “Intelligence data collected
within the missile defense system will not be shared with third
countries. It will be shared with the allies within our alliance.”
His statement was quite accurate – except for the fact that the radar
stations collecting the intelligence data are not controlled by NATO
but by US military teams, both of which, including the Turkish-based
radar, are integrated and coordinated with Israeli radar and missile
interceptors. (Copyright 2000-2012 DEBKAfile. 02/20/12)
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