By Lily Purqurian, CAS ’15
Three years later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s evocative “red line speech” at the United Nations, warning the international community of Iran abutting nuclear weapons proliferation, still looms over the P5+1 talks. Recent developments by Al-Jazeera indicate, however, that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, believed Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons” just a month before the Prime Minister’s speech.
On October 22, 2012, Mossad reportedly sent a top-secret cable to South Africa detailing the advancements – or lack thereof – of Iran’s nuclear activity. It seems Al-Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has gotten a hold of this cable to conclude that Iran had not “begun the work needed to build any kind of nuclear weapon” at the time. In fact, the Mossad cable is said to have identified Iran’s nuclear scientists as “working to close gaps in areas that appear legitimate such as enrichment reactors.” This aligns with the 2012 US National Intelligence Estimate, which advanced the more thorough NIE in 2007 by solidifying Iran’s detachment from nuclear capability while rejecting any of its possible efforts to restore research on warheads.
These findings sit uneasily with those remembering Prime Minister Netanyahu’s graphic assessment of an Iran just 20% away from building a bomb: with its current progress at 70% and the “red line” at 90%. Some argue, however, that these cables do not contradict the Prime Minister’s assessment, as there is a difference between having enough uranium to build a bomb, which the Prime Minister alarmed, and building a bomb.
Despite the details, these reports testify to the increasingly taut relationship between the United States, Israel and Iran as diplomacy with Iran is tried. Internally, Israel is divided between its intelligence agency and its executive, with the head of the former arguing for diplomacy and even going so far as to warn Washington of the dangers in intensifying sanctions on Iran. The latter, however, emphasizes militant rhetoric and action against a country that it believes to be dishonest.
As Iran and the P5+1 work towards sealing a permanent deal by March, the reality of diplomacy will become clear alongside the reality of its potency. Whether or not a deal will relieve tensions, mistrust, and overall skepticism over Iran’s nuclear capability remains to be seen.
Photo Courtesy of: The Blaze Inc