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Peres & Army & Mossad stopped Netanyahu attack on Iran, from Peter Myers

(1) NY Post & National Post report Peres stopped attack on Iran; US & Israel spied on each other
(2) NY Post: Peres stopped Netanyahu from bombing Iran
(3) Netanyahu attack on Iran was thwarted by Peres & Iraeli military & intelligence chiefs
(4) Reuters: Army head Ashkenazi & Mossad head Meir Dagan refused Netanyahu order
(5) National Post: Peres stopped attack on Iran
(6) WSJ: Israel & US were spying on each other, as Israel tried to stop US talks & deal with Iran (2015)
(7) To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran - John Bolton (2015)
(1) NY Post & National Post report Peres stopped attack on Iran; US & Israel spied on each other
- Peter Myers, October 3, 2016
Yesterday, I said that the MSM in the US had not reported this story. I
made that claim after searching Google News (USA) and Google All (with
time = 24 hours). Today I have found that the NY Post and the National
Post have covered the story. That still leaves a lot that have not,
including the New York Times.
The point is, that this story gives the lie to the idea that Israel is a
weak, vulnerable country, only trying to defend itself. Here was a plan
to launch a war that would have further destabilized the Middle East.
Further, Israeli spying on the US in this case reveals that far from
being an ally, Israel seeks primacy over the US. When Netanyahu could
not get his way over Obama, Netanyahu tried to get the Jewish Lobby to
mobilize Congress and the Lobby's Evangelical dupes. At that point,
Obama ordered the NSA to intercept Netanyahu's phone calls, and leaked
that to the media; the WSJ seems to be the usual recipient. A US leader
stood up to the Lobby for the first time since JFK.
The reports from the NY Post, Reuters and the National Post (items 2, 4
& 5) contain nothing new; you may just scan them briefly. The point of
including them here, is that it's important to check how the media
present (or censor) major stories. Item 3, from Al Monitor, is more
detailed and worth attention.
Item 6, the WSJ report on how Israel & the US resorted to spying on each
other over the Iran talks and deal, is top priority and, to my
knowledge, has not appeared before in the alternative news. The report
is here in full.
John Bolton's backing of Israel's war (item 7) confirms how close we
came. The NYT saw fit to publish it, but not the recent report about how
Peres stopped the attack.
These reports further discredit Noam Chomsky's denial of the Lobby's
power, and portrayal of Israel as merely a loyal sheriff of the Empire.
Chomsky is rarely cited these days; his credibility is in tatters.
(2) NY Post: Peres stopped Netanyahu from bombing Iran
Shimon Peres once stopped Netanyahu from bombing Iran
By Yaron Steinbuch
September 30, 2016 | 8:11am
Shimon Peres, who was hailed during his funeral Friday as a man of
justice and peace, prevented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
from bombing Iran about five years ago, according to the Jerusalem Post,
which honored his request to withhold the news until after his death.
The former Israeli president dropped the bombshell during a conversation
with the newspaper’s Managing Editor David Brinn and former
editor-in-chief Steve Linde at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa on
Aug. 24, 2014.
Peres, who had retired a month earlier as president, was asked what he
considered his greatest achievement of his presidency.
"I stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran," he said about the planned
strike on the country’s nuclear sites.
"I don’t want to go into details, but I can tell you that he was ready
to launch an attack and I stopped him. I told him the consequences would
be catastrophic," he added.
When asked if the paper could report it, he responded with a wry smile:
"When I’m dead."
During a June 7, 2015, security panel that Linde moderated in New York,
former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and
then-Mossad director Meir Dagan were asked about refusing an order from
Netanyahu to prepare for an attack against Iran, the paper reported.
While pointedly denying that the order had been given, Dagan insisted:
"It was an illegal order. We were always willing to obey any legal order
by the prime minister. We never refused an order."
Ashkenazi acknowledged, though, that he had opposed a unilateral Israeli
strike on Iran.
A columnist for the Israeli newspaper Maariv later raised the matter
with Peres, who was furious that the question was being raised publicly.
"Peres had good reason to be angry," the columnist, Ben Caspit, later
wrote on the Al-Monitor media site. "He was one of the key players in
that drama, which played out between the summer of 2009 and the summer
of 2011. These were some of the tensest times for Israel’s defense
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak were
pushing ahead with their plans to attack Iran, while the IDF, headed by
Ashkenazi, and the heads of the other defense establishments opposed the
move," he added. "Ashkenazi and Dagan had the support of none other than
the president at the time, Peres, who joined their efforts to thwart the
(3) Netanyahu attack on Iran was thwarted by Peres & Iraeli military & intelligence chiefs
Why didn’t Netanyahu attack Iran?
This week it was disclosed that there was a serious disagreement between
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the heads of the security
apparatus in 2010, when Netanyahu considered attacking Iran.
Author Ben Caspit
Posted June 8, 2015
Participants in the Jerusalem Post's fourth annual conference in New
York on June 7 never imagined that they would find themselves under
public cross-examination over the actions of Israel’s political and
security services during the tense days of 2010, when the government
contemplated a military assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Sitting on
the panel were former Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi; former
Mossad Director Meir Dagan; two former heads of the National Security
Council, Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland and Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan; and senior
columnist Caroline Glick. Moderating the panel was the Jerusalem Post’s
editor-in-chief, Steve Linde. The much talked-about argument broke out
toward the end of the discussion, when Glick, who is known for her
hawkish, right-wing views, claimed that in 2010, two members of the
panel "were given an order to prepare the military for an imminent
strike against Iran’s nuclear installation, and they refused."
Quick to protest these allegations, Dagan got into a vociferous argument
with Glick. "It was an illegal order," he said. "You were not there. You
don’t know what happened there."
Glick refused to concede: "Had you not brought in your expert legal
opinion to determine whether or not the prime minister of Israel and the
defense minister of Israel have a right to order Israel to take action
in its national defense, then we would not be where we are today." She
blamed Dagan and Ashkenazi for the current situation, which, according
to the Israeli right, leaves the country with no way out. What she was
effectively saying is that the heads of Israel’s security forces
conducted a quiet putsch against the political leadership, preventing
them from launching an Israeli assault against Iran’s nuclear facilities
following plans prepared well in advance.
This argument reignited the public debate about the issue in Israel. At
the Herzliya Conference in Israel the following day, I asked the
country's ninth president, Shimon Peres, about it. "That journalist
wasn’t there! How would she know?" Peres raged. "These are issues that
should be discussed in the Cabinet, not in the media and not in public."
Peres had good reason to be angry. He was one of the key players in that
drama, which played out between the summer of 2009 and the summer of
2011. These were some of the tensest times for Israel’s defense
establishment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister
Ehud Barak were pushing ahead with their plans to attack Iran, while the
Israel Defense Forces (IDF), headed by Ashkenazi, and the heads of the
other defense establishments opposed the move. Ashkenazi and Dagan had
the support of none other than the president at the time, Peres, who
joined their efforts to thwart the attack.
Were they refusing a direct order? Was this a mutiny, or possibly a
military putsch against the country’s political leadership? The answer
is no. Glick’s question focused on a very specific incident, which
occurred at the end of a meeting of the Septet, Netanyahu’s ministerial
forum for strategic consultation. It was a private forum of ministers,
without any statutory standing and therefore unable to make any
decisions. During that meeting, Netanyahu ordered Ashkenazi to prepare
the IDF for an attack on Iran within 30 days. In professional terms,
this was a case of "prepping the system." Ashkenazi was rather shocked
by the order, and he wasn’t the only one. So was Dagan, Shin Bet
Director Yuval Diskin and the chief of military intelligence, Amos
Yadlin. Not one of them could believe what they just heard. A "readiness
order" requires a formal government decision before it can be issued, or
at the very least, a decision by the Cabinet. It is a strategic order,
during which time the IDF calls up the reserves and puts numerous
systems into action. Although the law requires a government decision
before such an order can be given, in this particular instance,
Netanyahu issued the order offhandedly during the meeting of a forum
with no legal standing.
That was why Dagan responded two days ago in New York that "It was an
illegal order." It is also worth noting that Ashkenazi said during that
same panel, "There was never a decision about it." Paradoxically, both
men were right. The order was, indeed, illegal, and when the heads of
the defense establishment clarified this to the leaders of the political
establishment (Netanyahu and Barak), Netanyahu rescinded it. When Glick
insisted on pressing against Ashkenazi with her line of questioning, he
responded that there was a military option. It was prepared. That he
gave his recommendations, did not intervene and did not block the
decision. He claimed that there was never a decision about it. That’s all.
Glick refused to concede. "I think that at the end of the day, you have
to wonder what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. I must
say that if the prime minister would have given me an order, saying to
prepare the military option, I would say, ‘OK, there needs to be a
Cabinet vote.’ I would not say, 'No, it’s illegal.'" Dagan then added,
"Our roles and our obligations are to the State of Israel, and we
fulfilled them. There was no order. He could have said, ‘Or else I will
fire you or bring it up with the Cabinet.’ The meeting ended with the
prime minister, not us, stepping back from his proposal."
This dialogue in New York, about five years after the fact, reveals just
the tip of the iceberg of what was taking place behind closed doors
during those long, tense months in the conference rooms of Israel’s top
defense leadership. All the heads of the various security forces were
unanimous in their opinion that an Israeli attack on Iran would be a
historic mistake that could result in disaster. At the same time,
however, decisions in Israel are made by the political leadership. The
defense establishment is then expected to carry them out without
hesitation. On the other hand, to follow through with a perilous,
strategically historic move such as attacking Iran, any Israeli prime
minister would want the support of his defense leadership, or at least
the chief of staff.
Netanyahu is an overly cautious prime minister with an aversion to
military adventurism, for reasons of personal political survival. He
knew that if something went wrong with the attack and it then became
public that he gave the order despite the recommendations of all of the
professionals in the security services, it would be the end of his
political career. At first, he invested enormous energy in trying to
convince some of the defense chiefs to adopt his position. The event
reported here occurred when he finally gave up.
The question that the Israeli right should ask Netanyahu is why he
didn’t attack Iran in the summer of 2012. As far as Netanyahu was
concerned, that summer was seemingly the ultimate moment: The heads of
the security forces had left the IDF and were replaced with a new crop
of generals lacking experience, charisma or influence among the public.
At that time, Netanyahu had a weak and anonymous chief of staff in the
person of Benny Gantz, a novice director of the Mossad with Tamir Pardo,
a new chief of military intelligence and a new director of the Shin Bet
on the way. At the same time, the United States was caught up in a
bitter presidential election, in which President Barack Obama was
fighting for his second term. Netanyahu was seemingly free to act. There
was nothing to prevent him from attacking Iran in July, August or
September 2012, but he hesitated and eventually put his dream aside. At
the time, however, there was no one to interfere in any significant way.
So why didn’t he go through with it? First of all, because Netanyahu was
afraid. Second, Barak made a sharp, last minute U-turn and switched to
the opponents’ side. And there must be other reasons.
At the Herzliya conference June 8, I asked Peres to comment on the issue
and to speak about the shape that negotiations with Iran are taking.
"There is no alternative to negotiations," Peres said. "War means blood,
wars mean disaster. Such a war would involve not only Iran but
apparently Hezbollah as well. President Obama is not alone. He has a
coalition. He has partners. There is Russia and China. These partners
are more important than any centrifuges. Without them, there can be no
sanctions. Any agreement is good, and preferable to war."
(4) Reuters: Army head Ashkenazi & Mossad head Meir Dagan refused Netanyahu order
Mon Nov 5, 2012 | 6:18am EST
Netanyahu, Barak clashed with army over Iran attack: report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak
ordered Israeli defence chiefs in 2010 to prepare for an attack on
Iran's nuclear facilities but were rebuffed, a television report said.
Excerpts released on Monday of an Israeli Channel 2 documentary said the
armed forces' chief of staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Mossad
intelligence head Meir Dagan both objected to the order to raise the
military's alert level to "F-Plus", which means a strike could be imminent.
Barak, interviewed on the Uvda investigative show, said Ashkenazi told
him the army did not have the operational capability for a successful
strike against Iran's nuclear programme, which Israel believes is aimed
at producing weapons, an allegation Tehran denies.
The documentary said Ashkenazi disputes Barak's account and that he told
confidants that while the military was capable of carrying out such an
attack, to do so would be a strategic mistake.
Ashkenazi, the report added, cautioned that just giving the order to
raise the alert status could set off a chain of events that could spiral
out of control and lead to a wider conflict.
In an excerpt broadcast before the programme airs later on Monday, Barak
played down the significance of the alert order.
"It is not true that creating a situation in which the IDF (Israel
Defence Forces) ... are on alert for a few hours or a few days to carry
out certain operations forces Israel to go through with them," Barak said.
Dagan, who since his retirement as Mossad chief has voiced opposition to
a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran, accused Netanyahu and Barak at the
time of trying to launch a war illegally without cabinet approval, the
television report said, citing participants at security discussions.
Barak and Netanyahu have since signaled that an attack on Iran was not
imminent. In September, Netanyahu told the United Nations that Tehran
would be on the brink of nuclear weapons' capability only in the spring
or summer of 2013.
Barak said last week that Iran has pulled back on its nuclear programme,
which has given Israel more time to contemplate its next steps.
(5) National Post: Peres stopped attack on Iran
‘I stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran’: Extraordinary claim Shimon
Peres wanted published after his death
Tristin Hopper | September 30, 2016 3:07 PM ET
{photo} Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, points to a red
line he drew on a graphic of a bomb while addressing the United Nations
General Assembly on September 27, 2012 in New York City. {end}
In an admission he said could only be published after his death, former
Israeli president Shimon Peres reportedly said in 2014 that he
personally stopped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from
attacking Iran.
"I stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran," Peres was reported as telling
Steve Linde, then-editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, during an Aug.
24, 2014 conversation in Jaffa.
When pressed for details, Peres reportedly responded, "I don’t want to
go into details, but I can tell you that he was ready to launch an
attack and I stopped him. I told him the consequences would be
He then asked, with a "wry smile," that the comments be kept secret
until after his death. Published Friday, the comments are based on
Linde’s notes from the meeting.
Peres held the largely ceremonial role of Israeli president between 2007
and July 2014, a period of particularly high Iran-Israeli tensions.
September 2012, for instance, was when Netanyahu appeared before the
United Nations General Assembly holding a cartoon bomb and declaring
that Iran was mere months from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran
from getting atomic bombs and that’s by placing a clear red line on
Iran’s nuclear weapons program," he said.
It is not known what kind of action Netanyahu may have been planning,
but it presumably would have been a limited strike similar to Operation
Opera, a surprise 1981 Israeli airstrike on Iraqi nuclear facilities.
Last October, a Wall Street Journal éxposé revealed that, in the early
2010s, the U.S. had readied extra fighter aircraft in the Middle East in
case "all hell broke loose" after a possible Israeli attack on Iran.
Specifically, U.S. officials suspected that Israel was preparing for a
commando raid on Fordow, a fortified Iranian uranium enrichment facility.
Peres, who died Wednesday at age 93, was the last of a generation of
Israel’s founding leaders.
He immigrated at the age of 11 from Poland to what was then known as the
British mandate of Palestine. In a military and political career
stretching over seven decades, Peres was at the centre of many of the
major events of Israeli history, including the 1956 Suez War and the
negotiation of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
The Israeli leader is also credited as being the architect of the Jewish
state’s nuclear program. Although Israel has never officially confirmed
it has nuclear weapons, it is widely believed to be the Middle East’s
only nuclear power.
As a member of the liberal Kadima party, Peres’ views often differed
sharply with those expounded by Netanyahu and other members of his
right-wing governing coalition.
During a 2012 visit to Toronto, for instance, Peres called for patience
with Iran.
"It is better to start with non-military efforts than to go straight to
war," he said. "The fact that Iran is ready to enter negotiations shows
(sanctions) are having an impact."
Peres’ funeral on Friday was Israel’s largest gathering of international
dignitaries since the 1995 funeral of assassinated Israeli prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin. Among the attendees were U.S. president Barack
Obama, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Canadian prime minister
Justin Trudeau.
The Israeli leader’s death has so far elicited no official reaction from
Iran, although according to the news website Al-Monitor, the event has
been a cause for mild celebration for Iranian media across the political
The reform-minded Shargh Daily, for one, described Peres as "the founder
of Israel’s violations."
(6) WSJ: Israel & US were spying on each other, as Israel tried to stop US talks & deal with Iran (2015)
Spy vs. Spy: Inside the Fraying U.S.-Israel Ties
Distrust set allies to snoop on each other after split over Iran nuclear
deal; each kept secrets
  By Adam Entous
Oct. 22, 2015 9:01 p.m. ET
The U.S. closely monitored Israel’s military bases and eavesdropped on
secret communications in 2012, fearing its longtime ally might try to
carry out a strike on Fordow, Iran’s most heavily fortified nuclear
Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli
aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry
run for a commando raid on the site. Worried that Israel might ignite a
regional war, the White House sent a second aircraft carrier to the
region and readied attack aircraft, a senior U.S. official said, "in
case all hell broke loose."
The two countries, nursing a mutual distrust, each had something to
hide. U.S. officials hoped to restrain Israel long enough to advance
negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. had launched in
secret. U.S. officials saw Israel’s strike preparations as an attempt to
usurp American foreign policy.
Instead of talking to each other, the allies kept their intentions
secret. To figure out what they weren’t being told, they turned to their
spy agencies to fill gaps. They employed deception, not only against
Iran, but against each other. After working in concert for nearly a
decade to keep Iran from an atomic bomb, the U.S. and Israel split over
the best means: diplomacy, covert action or military strikes.
Personal strains between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted at their first Oval Office meeting
in 2009, and an accumulation of grievances in the years since plunged
relations between the two countries into crisis.
This Wall Street Journal account of the souring of U.S.-Israel relations
over Iran is based on interviews with nearly two dozen current and
former senior U.S. and Israeli officials.
U.S. and Israeli officials say they want to rebuild trust but
acknowledge it won’t be easy. Mr. Netanyahu reserves the right to
continue covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, said current and
former Israeli officials, which could put the spy services of the U.S.
and Israel on a collision course.
A shaky start
Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu shared common ground on Iran when they first
met in 2007. Mr. Netanyahu, then the leader of Israel’s opposition
party, the right-wing Likud, discussed with Mr. Obama, a Democratic
senator, how to discourage international investment in Iran’s energy
sector. Afterward, Mr. Obama introduced legislation to that end.
Suspicions grew during the 2008 presidential race after Mr. Netanyahu
spoke with some congressional Republicans who described Mr. Obama as
pro-Arab, Israeli officials said. The content of the conversations later
found its way back to the White House, senior Obama administration
officials said.
Soon after taking office in January 2009, Mr. Obama took steps to allay
Israeli concerns, including instructing the Pentagon to develop military
options against Iran’s Fordow facility, which was built into a mountain.
The president also embraced an existing campaign of covert action
against Iran, expanding cooperation between the Central Intelligence
Agency and Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.
Mossad leaders compared the covert campaign to a 10-floor building: The
higher the floor, they said, the more invasive the operation. CIA and
Mossad worked together on operations on the lower floors. But the
Americans made clear they had no interest in moving higher—Israeli
proposals to bring down Iran’s financial system, for example, or even
its regime.
Some covert operations were run unilaterally by Mossad, such as the
assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, according to U.S. officials.
The first Oval Office meeting between Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu, in
May 2009—weeks after Mr. Netanyahu became prime minister—was difficult
for both sides. After the meeting, Mr. Obama’s aides called Ron Dermer,
Mr. Netanyahu’s adviser, to coordinate their statements. Mr. Dermer told
them it was too late; Mr. Netanyahu was already briefing reporters."We
kind of looked at each other and said, ‘I guess we’re not coordinating
our messages,’ " said Tommy Vietor, a former administration official who
was there.
In 2010, the risk of covert action became clear. A computer virus dubbed
Stuxnet, deployed jointly by the U.S. and Israel to destroy Iranian
centrifuges used to process uranium, had inadvertently spread across the
Internet. The Israelis wanted to launch cyberattacks against a range of
Iranian institutions, according to U.S. officials. But the breach made
Mr. Obama more cautious, officials said, for fear of triggering Iranian
retaliation, or damaging the global economy if a virus spread
Israel questioned whether its covert operations were enough, said aides
to Mr. Netanyahu. Stuxnet had only temporarily slowed Tehran’s progress.
"Cyber and other covert operations had their inherent limitations," a
senior Israeli official said, "and we reached those limitations."
Mr. Netanyahu pivoted toward a military strike, raising anxiety levels
in the White House.
The U.S. Air Force analyzed the arms and aircraft needed to destroy
Iran’s nuclear facilities and concluded Israel didn’t have the right
equipment. The U.S. shared the findings, in part, to steer the Israelis
from a military strike.
The Israelis weren’t persuaded and briefed the U.S. on an attack plan:
Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who
would "blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance" of Fordow,
a senior U.S. official said. The Israelis planned to sabotage the
nuclear facility from inside.
Pentagon officials thought it was a suicide mission. They pressed the
Israelis to give the U.S. advance warning. The Israelis were noncommittal.
"Whether this was all an effort to try to pressure Obama, or whether
Israel was really getting close to a decision, I don’t know," said
Michéle Flournoy, who at the time was undersecretary of defense for policy.
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, was moving toward diplomacy. In December 2011, the
White House secretly used then-Sen. John Kerry to sound out Omani
leaders about opening a back channel to the Iranians.
At the same time, the White House pressed the Israelis to scale back
their assassination campaign and turned down their requests for more
aggressive covert measures, U.S. officials said.
The president spoke publicly about his willingness to use force as a
last resort to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon—"I don’t
bluff," Mr. Obama said in March 2012—but some of Mr. Netanyahu’s
advisers weren’t convinced.
In early 2012, U.S. spy agencies told the White House about a flurry of
meetings that Mr. Netanyahu convened with top security advisers. The
meetings covered everything from mission logistics to the political
implications of a military strike, Israeli officials said.
U.S. spy agencies stepped up satellite surveillance of Israeli aircraft
movements. They detected when Israeli pilots were put on alert and
identified moonless nights, which would give the Israelis better cover
for an attack. They watched the Israelis practice strike missions and
learned they were probing Iran’s air defenses, looking for ways to fly
in undetected, U.S. officials said.
New intelligence poured in every day, much of it fragmentary or so
highly classified that few U.S. officials had a complete picture.
Officials now say many jumped to the mistaken conclusion that the
Israelis had made a dry run.
At the time, concern and confusion over Israel’s intentions added to the
sense of urgency inside the White House for a diplomatic solution.
The White House decided to keep Mr. Netanyahu in the dark about the
secret Iran talks, believing he would leak word to sabotage them.
There was little goodwill for Mr. Netanyahu among Mr. Obama’s aides who
perceived the prime minister as supportive of Republican challenger Mitt
Romney in the 2012 campaign.
Mr. Netanyahu would get briefed on the talks, White House officials
concluded, only if it looked like a deal could be reached.
The first secret meeting between U.S. and Iranian negotiators, held in
July 2012, was a bust. But "nobody was willing to throw it overboard by
greenlighting Israeli strikes just when the process was getting
started," a former senior Obama administration official said.
Israeli officials approached their U.S. counterparts over the summer
about obtaining military hardware useful for a strike, U.S. officials said.
At the top of the list were V-22 Ospreys, aircraft that take off and
land like helicopters but fly like fixed-wing planes. Ospreys don’t need
runways, making them ideal for dropping commandos behind enemy lines.
The Israelis also sounded out officials about obtaining the Massive
Ordnance Penetrator, the U.S. military’s 30,000-pound bunker-busting
bomb, which was designed to destroy Fordow.
Mr. Netanyahu wanted "somebody in the administration to show
acquiescence, if not approval" for a military strike, said Gary Samore,
who served for four years as Mr. Obama’s White House coordinator for
arms control and weapons of mass destruction. "The message from the
Obama administration was: ‘We think this is a big mistake.’ "
White House officials decided not to provide the equipment.
Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu spoke in September 2012, and Mr. Obama
emerged convinced Israel wouldn’t strike on the eve of the U.S.
presidential election.
By the following spring, senior U.S. officials concluded the Israelis
weren’t serious about a commando raid on Fordow and may have been
bluffing. When the U.S. offered to sell the Ospreys, Israel said it
didn’t have the money.
Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who championed a strike,
said Mr. Netanyahu had come close to approving a military operation
against Iran. But Israel’s military chiefs and cabinet members were
reluctant, according to Israeli officials.
While keeping the Omani talks secret, U.S. officials briefed the
Israelis on the parallel international negotiations between Iran and
major world powers under way in early 2013. Those talks, which made
little headway, were led on the U.S. side by State Department diplomat
Wendy Sherman.
Robert Einhorn, at the time an arms control adviser at the State
Department, said that during the briefings, Mr. Netanyahu’s advisers
wouldn’t say what concessions they could live with. "It made us feel
like nothing was going to be good enough for them," Mr. Einhorn said.
U.S. spy agencies were monitoring Israeli communications to see if the
Israelis had caught wind of the secret talks. In September 2013, the
U.S. learned the answer.
Yaakov Amidror, Mr. Netanyahu’s national security adviser at the time,
had come to Washington in advance of a Sept. 30 meeting between Messrs.
Netanyahu and Obama.
On Sept. 27, Mr. Amidror huddled with White House national security
adviser Susan Rice in her office when she told him that Mr. Obama was on
the phone in a groundbreaking call with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani.
Mr. Amidror had his own surprise. During a separate meeting in the
Roosevelt Room, he told several of Mr. Obama’s top advisers that Israel
had identified the tail numbers of the unmarked U.S. government planes
that ferried negotiators to Muscat, Oman, the site of the secret talks,
U.S. officials said.
Mr. Amidror, who declined to comment on the White House discussions,
said that it was insulting for Obama administration officials to think
"they could go to Oman without taking our intelligence capabilities into
account." He called the decision to hide the Iran talks from Israel a
big mistake.
U.S. officials said they were getting ready to tell the Israelis about
the talks, which advanced only after Mr. Rouhani came to office. During
the Sept. 30 meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, the president acknowledged the
secret negotiations. The secrecy cemented Israel’s distrust of Mr.
Obama’s intentions, Israeli officials said.
Mr. Samore, the former White House official, said he believed it was a
mistake to keep Israel in the dark for so long. Mr. Einhorn said: "The
lack of early transparency reinforced Israel’s suspicions and had an
outsize negative impact on Israeli thinking about the talks."
Israel pushed for the U.S. to be more open about the Iran negotiations.
Ms. Rice, however, pulled back on consultations with her new Israeli
counterpart, Yossi Cohen, who took over as Mr. Netanyahu’s national
security adviser, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.
In exchanges with the White House, U.S. officials said, Mr. Cohen
wouldn’t budge from demanding Iran give up its centrifuges and
uranium-enrichment program. Israeli officials said they feared any
deviation would be taken by the U.S. as a green light for more concessions.
In one meeting, Mr. Cohen indicated Mr. Netanyahu could accept a deal
allowing Iran to keep thousands of centrifuges, U.S. officials said.
Soon after, Mr. Cohen called to say he had misspoken. Neither side was
prepared to divulge their bottom line.
In November 2013, when the interim agreement was announced, Mr. Samore
was in Israel, where, he said, the Israelis "felt blindsided" by the
terms. U.S. officials said the details came together so quickly that Ms.
Sherman and her team didn’t have enough time to convey them all. Israeli
officials said the Americans intentionally withheld information to
prevent them from influencing the outcome.
As talks began in 2014 on a final accord, U.S. intelligence agencies
alerted White House officials that Israelis were spying on the
negotiations. Israel denied any espionage against the U.S. Israeli
officials said they could learn details, in part, by spying on Iran, an
explanation U.S. officials didn’t believe.
Earlier this year, U.S. officials clamped down on what they shared with
Israel about the talks after, they allege, Mr. Netanyahu’s aides leaked
confidential information about the emerging deal.
When U.S. officials confronted the Israelis over the matter in a
meeting, Israel’s then-minister of intelligence said he didn’t disclose
anything from Washington’s briefings. The information, the minister
said, came from "other means," according to meeting participants.
Ms. Sherman told Mr. Cohen, Israel’s national security adviser: "You’re
putting us in a very difficult position. We understand that you will
find out what you can find out by your own means. But how can we tell
you every single last thing when we know you’re going to use it against
us?" according to U.S. officials who were there.
Mr. Netanyahu turned to congressional Republicans, one of his remaining
allies with the power to affect the deal, Israeli officials said, but he
couldn’t muster enough votes to block it.
U.S. officials now pledge to work closely with their Israeli
counterparts to monitor Iran’s compliance with the international agreement.
But it is unclear how the White House will respond to any covert Israeli
actions against Iran’s nuclear program, which current and former Israeli
officials said were imperative to safeguard their country.
One clause in the agreement says the major powers will help the Iranians
secure their facilities against sabotage. State Department officials
said the clause wouldn’t protect Iranian nuclear sites from Israel.
Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA, said the U.S. and Israel
could nonetheless end up at odds. "If we become aware of any Israeli
efforts, do we have a duty to warn Iran?" Mr. Hayden said. "Given the
intimacy of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, it’s going to be more
complicated than ever."
Write to Adam Entous at
Obama Declassifies Document Revealing Israel's Nuclear Program
On March 26, 2015, it was reported that in early February -- when the
Obama administration was enraged by the recent announcement that Israeli
Prime Minister Netanyahu would be addressing a joint session of the U.S.
Congress on March 3 regarding Iran's nuclear program -- the Pentagon had
quietly declassified a top-secret, 386-page Defense Department document
from 1987 containing extensive details of Israel's nuclear program. The
document was entitled "Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and
NATO Nations." As Israel National News (INN) explained, Israel's nuclear
program was "a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally
announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the U.S.
until now has respected by remaining silent."
INN added:
"[B]y publishing the declassified document from 1987, the U.S.
reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel's
nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in
great depth.
The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as
tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu's March 3
address in Congress, in which he warned against the dangers of Iran's
nuclear program and how the deal being formed on that program leaves the
Islamic regime with nuclear breakout capabilities.
Another highly suspicious aspect of the document is that while the
Pentagon saw fit to declassify sections on Israel's sensitive nuclear
program, it kept sections on Italy, France, West Germany and other NATO
countries classified, with those sections blocked out in the document.
(7) To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran - John Bolton (2015)
To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran
John R. Bolton
March 26, 2015
FOR years, experts worried that the Middle East would face an
uncontrollable nuclear-arms race if Iran ever acquired weapons
capability. Given the region’s political, religious and ethnic
conflicts, the logic is straightforward.
As in other nuclear proliferation cases like India, Pakistan and North
Korea, America and the West were guilty of inattention when they should
have been vigilant. But failing to act in the past is no excuse for
making the same mistakes now. All presidents enter office facing the
cumulative effects of their predecessors’ decisions. But each is
responsible for what happens on his watch. President Obama’s approach on
Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe.
In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced
and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear
program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria.
Naturally, Tehran wants to be free of them, but the president’s own
director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not
stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread
acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which
judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an
embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking.
Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress
toward nuclear weapons has long been evident. Now the arms race has
begun: Neighboring countries are moving forward, driven by fears that
Mr. Obama’s diplomacy is fostering a nuclear Iran. Saudi Arabia,
keystone of the oil-producing monarchies, has long been expected to move
first. No way would the Sunni Saudis allow the Shiite Persians to
outpace them in the quest for dominance within Islam and Middle Eastern
geopolitical hegemony. Because of reports of early Saudi funding,
analysts have long believed that Saudi Arabia has an option to obtain
nuclear weapons from Pakistan, allowing it to become a nuclear-weapons
state overnight. Egypt and Turkey, both with imperial legacies and
modern aspirations, and similarly distrustful of Tehran, would be right
Ironically perhaps, Israel’s nuclear weapons have not triggered an arms
race. Other states in the region understood — even if they couldn’t
admit it publicly — that Israel’s nukes were intended as a deterrent,
not as an offensive measure.
Iran is a different story. Extensive progress in uranium enrichment and
plutonium reprocessing reveal its ambitions. Saudi, Egyptian and Turkish
interests are complex and conflicting, but faced with Iran’s threat, all
have concluded that nuclear weapons are essential.
The former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, said
recently, "whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same." He
added, "if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level,
it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that." Obviously, the
Saudis, Turkey and Egypt will not be issuing news releases trumpeting
their intentions. But the evidence is accumulating that they have
quickened their pace toward developing weapons.
Saudi Arabia has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with South Korea,
China, France and Argentina, aiming to build a total of 16 reactors by
2030. The Saudis also just hosted meetings with the leaders of Pakistan,
Egypt and Turkey; nuclear matters were almost certainly on the agenda.
Pakistan could quickly supply nuclear weapons or technology to Egypt,
Turkey and others. Or, for the right price, North Korea might sell
behind the backs of its Iranian friends.
The Obama administration’s increasingly frantic efforts to reach
agreement with Iran have spurred demands for ever-greater concessions
from Washington. Successive administrations, Democratic and Republican,
worked hard, with varying success, to forestall or terminate efforts to
acquire nuclear weapons by states as diverse as South Korea, Taiwan,
Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. Even where civilian nuclear reactors
were tolerated, access to the rest of the nuclear fuel cycle was
typically avoided. Everyone involved understood why.
This gold standard is now everywhere in jeopardy because the president’s
policy is empowering Iran. Whether diplomacy and sanctions would ever
have worked against the hard-liners running Iran is unlikely. But
abandoning the red line on weapons-grade fuel drawn originally by the
Europeans in 2003, and by the United Nations Security Council in several
resolutions, has alarmed the Middle East and effectively handed a permit
to Iran’s nuclear weapons establishment.
The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its
nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep
weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military
action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in
Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by
North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short,
but a strike can still succeed.
Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment
installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor
would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical
uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all
of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the
nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five
years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but
Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined
with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime
change in Tehran.
Mr. Obama’s fascination with an Iranian nuclear deal always had an air
of unreality. But by ignoring the strategic implications of such
diplomacy, these talks have triggered a potential wave of nuclear
programs. The president’s biggest legacy could be a thoroughly
nuclear-weaponized Middle East.
John R. Bolton, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was the
United States ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to
December 2006.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 26, 2015, on page A23
of the New York edition with the headline: To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.
Peter Myers