The 14-member Security Cabinet, the body authorized to approve military attacks, met Tuesday to hear the annual intelligence assessments provided by the country’s intelligence agencies.
The 10-hour meeting is believed to be the first time in months that this body conducted an in-depth discussion on Iran that is believed to have included timelines, Iran’s “zones of immunity,” and what sanctions could still be adopted.No further details were made available. While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inner cabinet, which is made up of eight ministers, can give an advisory opinion on whether to attack Iran, the actual decision needs to be made by the security cabinet. This body could also choose to bring such a decision to the full 29-member cabinet.It is likely that among the issues discussed were the “red lines” that Israel would like the United States to establish as a way of deterring Iran from moving ahead. While Netanyahu has not publicly declared what he thinks those red lines should be, Uzi Arad, the former head of the National Security Council, said that they could include a declaration that any uranium enrichment beyond 20 percent would be a direct trigger for military action.
In addition, Arad said that the US has not yet spoken in “categorical terms” making crystal clear its determination to stop the Iranian nuclear march.Other “categorical” expressions of this determination, Arad said, could be congressional authorization now of the use of force if diplomacy fails to convince the Iranians to halt, and a clear statement that the military objective of any US action would not be to “buy time,” but rather to prevent Iran from ever being able to build a nuclear bomb.
There is a growing American assessment that Israel will not attack Iranian nuclear facilities before the U.S. presidential elections on November 6.
U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who visited Israel last week, told a breakfast panel at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday that he believes the Israeli government is likely to wait until after the elections.Rogers said that after his trip, during which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he’d been left with “no doubt in my mind” that the U.S. election cycle was part of Israel’s calculations. Asked why he thought Israel would wait, Rogers said, “Because I think they believe that maybe after the election they can talk the United States into cooperating.”
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Obama was considering a series of steps, both overt and covert, with the goal of helping Israel climb down from the tree and convincing Netanyahu to hold off on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
According to the report, Obama is considering making declarations regarding the United States’ “red lines” that may bring about an American attack on Iran if crossed.
But just last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report that very much legitimized Israel's concerns and sense of urgency.In the report, the IAEA noted that Iran has now installed no fewer than 2,140 centrifuges at its main underground uranium enrichment facility, giving it the ability to produce 200 kilograms (about 440 pounds) of weapons-grade uranium each year.A bit of math reveals that given its current stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran only needs another 50 kilograms to build its first nuclear warhead. In other words, the Islamic Republic could potentially test its first nuclear bomb within three months.These advancements have occurred in spite of a decade of international negotiations and sanctions.
Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, on Tuesday cited Israeli officials who claimed relations between Israel and Washington had reached an unprecedented low over the two nations' differing views regarding the urgency of the Iran nuclear threat.According to the sources cited, coordination between American and Israeli security forces has been reduced, while the New York Timesreported that US President Barack Obama is looking at a number of new policies aimed at preventing Israel from taking unilateral action against Iran's nuclear facilities.