New intelligence reveals Iranian military nuclear program advancing faster than previously thought (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 08/07/12)
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Western diplomat and Israeli officials who asked not to be named say
U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Israel share same intelligence
information, agree that assessment.
New intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western
countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing
components for its nuclear weapons program than the West had
previously realized, according to Western diplomats and Israeli
officials who are closely involved in efforts to prevent Iran from
building a nuclear bomb.
A Western diplomat who asked not to be named because he was not
authorized to discuss intelligence information said the United
States, Britain, France, Germany and Israel agree on that assessment.
According to the source, this assessment began to take shape in
February, when Iran refused to allow inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the base at Parchin,
where it is believed Iran is carrying out part of the research and
development of its military nuclear program. Visits of IAEA
inspectors in Iran, and especially revelations of information the
Iranians had been trying to hide, intensified suspicions that Tehran
was developing nuclear weapons at a faster pace than it had
Last month Britain´s Daily Telegraph reported that the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards has established a new team of 60 nuclear
scientists to develop Iran´s military nuclear program at the Lavizan
base near Tehran. In 2006, IAEA inspectors visited that base, which
belongs to the Guards´ missile development agency.
The Daily Telegraph based its report on information from the Iranian
opposition group Mujahideen al-Khalq. Members of the group told the
paper that the work of the Iranian scientists in the "weapons group"
is at an advanced facility involved warheads and detonators.
An American think tank called the Institute for Science and
International Security released a satellite photo of the Parchin base
showing, according to Western intelligence, that Iran is developing
nuclear weapons there. Taken on July 25 and released on August 1, the
picture shows that the Iranians have completed what the American
think tank called "cleanup" of the site where the base was.
According to researchers at the institute, the photos they received
show that the Iranians have bulldozed a number of structures at the
base and leveled the surrounding land, which the institute´s staff
suspect was done to erase evidence of nuclear activity at the site.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said in a closed meeting
last week that he was not deterred by the prospect of an inquiry
committee investigating a possible Israeli attack on Iran.
Iran´s defense minister, General Ahmad Vahidi, told reporters in
Tehran that an Israeli attack on Iran "is impossible unless the
Zionist entity wants to commit suicide ... Iran is completely
prepared to respond to an attack against it."
The Ugandan option
Netanyahu told U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
that an Israeli or American military attack on Iran´s nuclear
facilities was likely to help topple the ayatollah regime, just as
the 1976 Entebbe raid led to the defeat of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin,
according to a senior Israeli official.
The comment came when Romney asked Netanyahu during their July 29
meeting in Jerusalem whether he thinks an Israeli attack on the
nuclear facilities would unite Iranians, ultimately strengthening the
regime, the official said.
In explaining why he thinks that would not happen, Netanyahu
recounted what he said was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni´s
statement to him that the raid ultimately led to Amin´s downfall
three years later.
"Ugandan President Museveni told me the Entebbe raid was a turning
point in the effort to topple Idi Amin," the Israeli official quoted
Netanyahu as saying. "He said the operation strengthened Amin´s
rivals because it revealed how vulnerable his regime was."
Museveni made the comments when Netanyahu visited Uganda in 2005 to
dedicate a memorial for his brother Yoni Netanyahu, the commander who
was killed while rescuing 100 hostages from pro-Palestinian hijackers
at Entebbe airport in Uganda, the official said.
Museveni took part in the war that deposed Amin in 1979. (© Copyright
2012 Ha´aretz 08/07/12)
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