U.S. apparently believes Iran can but won’t make N-bomb
By Ira Sharkansky
JERUSALEM– There are some disturbing elements and some that are optimistic in a Washington Post article about expanded US intelligence activities with respect to Iran.
As is the nature of reports about these most secret of things, the optimism may come from some of the fluff added by unattributable sources, or by the journalists who compiled the article.
Key points in the article:
“White House officials contend that Iran’s leaders have not decided to build a nuclear weapon, and they say it would take Iran at least a year to do so if it were to launch a crash program now.
“Even in the absolute worst case — six months — there is time for the president to have options,” said the senior U.S. official, one of seven current or former advisers on security policy who agreed to discuss U.S. options on Iran on the condition of anonymity. . . .
A key demand (at upcoming talks with Iranian officials), Western diplomats say, is for Iran to halt production at its uranium enrichment plant at Qom, which was built in mountain tunnels beyond the reach of all but the most advanced bombs and missiles. In return for such a concession, Iran could be allowed to keep some semblance of a commercial nuclear power program under heavy international oversight, diplomats say. It is unclear, however, whether Iran would agree to restrictions on its program. In recent days, Iran has refused even to commit to a venue for the talks. . . .”
In case you didn’t notice, the last two sentences in that paragraph fall into the “disturbing” category.
“The expanded espionage effort has confirmed the consensus view expressed by the U.S. intelligence community in a controversial estimate released publicly in 2007. That estimate concluded that while Iran remains resolutely committed to assembling key building blocks for a nuclear weapons program, particularly enriched uranium, the nation’s leaders have opted for now against taking the crucial final step: designing a nuclear warhead.
“It isn’t the absence of evidence, it’s the evidence of an absence,” said one former intelligence official briefed on the findings. “Certain things are not being done.”
It adds to the image associated with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that Israel figures close to the center of discussions about the United States and Iran.
“The Obama administration has cited new intelligence reports in arguing against a preemptive military strike by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is one of two people who will be crucial in deciding whatever Israel does, as well as possessing considerable formal authority to implement those decisions.
The latest coverage of Israel’s Barak on Iran:
“Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he doesn’t think the current sanctions against Iran will persuade the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear program and that Israel hasn’t decided how to respond.
“I don’t believe that this amount of sanctions and pressure will bring the Iranian leadership to the conclusion that they have to stop their nuclear military program,” Barak said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program.”
We simple citizens of this beleaguered, ridiculed, but powerful little place can express our positions in favor, against, or ambivalence about such great issues in the supreme confidence that no one will provide us with the important information or ask our opinion.
In all probability it will be Ehud Barak and Benyamin Netanyahu who decide, with reference to whatever they know and expect. That other Barack on the other side of the ocean will be an important factor in their discussions, but who knows how much lesser in importance.
Just last week we had a media experience to remind us about the closeness of Netanyahu and the Israeli Barak. Their cooperation goes beyond the pathetic political weakness of the Defense Minister when measured in the conventional indicators of party power. Mid-way in the Netanyahu-Barak partnership as Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak split with the Labor Party which he had led, and created a tiny party of five members, which he calls “Independence.” The Labor Party previously had a Knesset delegation of 13 members.
Likud has 27 members. Israel our Home has 15 and SHAS has 11, but neither of those middling parties has anything close to the importance of the Defense Ministry.
Netanyahu and Barak were leading figures at the 40th anniversary of the IDF operation when a squad of commandos rescued the hostages of Sabena Flight 571. Ehud Barak commanded the mission, but he was not the leading figure at the celebration. That role went to Benyamin Netanyahu, who was one of the 16 participants in the operation disguised as airport technicians.
Somewhat better news for the non-Israeli Barack came from an affiliate of the Washington Post, reporting something flapping around close to the pinnacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
At the center of the commotion is Randy Bott, a Professor of Religion and said to be the most popular teacher at Brigham Young University.
What may be causing an itch for Mitt Romney is language like this:
“The Mormon Church’s own longstanding priesthood ban was, according to Bott, not racist. Rather, it was a ‘blessing.’ Prior to 1978, blacks weren’t spiritually mature enough to be ordained with such authority. Bott compared blacks to ‘a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car,’ . . . misusing priesthood authority—like crashing dad’s Oldsmobile—could have put blacks ‘in the lowest rungs of hell,’ reserved for serial killers, child rapists, world-class tyrants, and ‘people who abuse their priesthood powers.’”
It’s still more than five months to the Republican Convention in late August, and it’ll be another two months to the November election. Someone here or elsewhere will make a crucial decision to go or not toward Iran, maybe before or after those dates.
Whatever the decision, or non-decision, one can count on more reports in the Washington Post and elsewhere, along with commentary about the weight of Barak’s decision in Barack’s political campaign. And maybe something more about African-Americans and Mitt Romney’s religion.
This remains an interesting retirement.
Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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