NEWS & ANALYSIS: Israel and American Jewish organizations respond to NIE

Israel warns Iran to co-operate or pay price

Israel has warned Iran to either co-operate with the West over its uranium enrichment program or face military action.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s newly appointed ambassador to Britain and one of his country’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear program, said that Tehran could enrich enough uranium to make an atomic bomb by 2009.

“At the current rate of progress, Iran will reach the technical threshold for producing fissile material by 2009,” he said.

“This is a global threat and it requires a global response.

“It should be made clear that if Iran does not co-operate, then military confrontation is inevitable. It is either co-operation or confrontation.”

Mr Prosor, who served Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, as his senior adviser on Iran, said that time for resolving the nuclear issue was rapidly running out. But he was non-committal about the possibility of Israel launching military action. [complete article]

Intel bombshell sends community scrambling to hold line on Iran threat

American Jewish groups are scrambling to reformulate their message on Iran following the release this week of a new American intelligence report that states with “high confidence” that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago.

In a conference call Tuesday hurriedly arranged by the umbrella body of Jewish organizations, communal leaders decided to immediately send letters to the presidential candidates from both parties, urging them to continue pushing for sanctions against Iran.

According to participants in the conference call, concern is high that the unexpected conclusions drawn in the National Intelligence Estimate not only may lead Washington to withdraw the threat of military action against Iran but may also erode the recently reached international consensus on pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. [complete article]

Israeli policy on Tehran unchanged by American assessment

Israel will continue reviewing the implications of the U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran has no nuclear program, and will not stop its diplomatic and public relations efforts against the Iranian bomb, government officials decided yesterday.

The statement came after a meeting called by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss the significance of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate.

Olmert said at the meeting that Israel’s strict working assumption had not changed. [complete article]

Is Iran NIE a blessing in disguise for Israel?

The US National Intelligence Estimate’s assertion that Iran currently does not have a nuclear weapons program has caused much frustration in Israel. Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh referred to the report as a lie at a recent breakfast in New York, and Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer reportedly “doesn’t buy” its findings.

Though the report aggravates Israel’s effort to compel Washington to pursue an increasingly harsh line against Tehran, all is not lost for Israel. In fact, despite these initial knee-jerk reactions, the NIE may very well end up being a blessing in disguise for the Jewish state by pulling Israel out of its state of paralysis vis-à-vis Iran.

Israel has long been at odds with Washington’s intelligence agencies. It started sounding the alarm bells on Iran’s nuclear program back in 1991, arguing that in the post-Cold War world, Iran and Shi’ite fundamentalism were emerging as the new strategic threat to the Middle East.

The Israeli warnings were met with great skepticism and surprise within the Beltway. After all, only a few years earlier – at a time when Iran’s revolutionary fervor was still riding high – the Israelis had gone to great lengths to bring Iran and the US back on talking terms, dismissing all notions that Iran was a threat. [complete article]

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