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Mossad's Estimate Of Iranian Unrest

Mossad Director Meir Dagan: 'Internal Iranian Violence Will Not Lead To Revolution, Nor Will It Impact On Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program'

'So-called Reformer Mousavi Actually Initiated Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program'

'Stiffer Sanctions May Possibly Dissuade From Developing Nuclear Weapons That Must Be Distanced From Israel'

Mousavi and Ahmadinejad

While the ayatollahs in Tehran tried to restore quiet after the post election violence, the Mossad, Israel's equivalent of the American CIA, has presented its latest assessment of the situation. Appearing at a closed-door session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, Mossad director Meir Dagan and one of his top aides evaluated Iran in the midst of the bloody controversy over whether incumbent, radical Islamist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or 'reformist' Mir-Hossein Mousavi had won the election.

:: IsraCast Audio ::
'The current unrest in Iran, following the disputed election result, will not lead to a revolution'

'The current unrest in Iran, following the disputed election result, will not lead to a revolution' - that's the assessment of Meir Dagan, director of the Mossad. In fact, Dagan did not expect the rioting to last very long because the ayatollah power-elite was strong enough to quell the violence. So how might the dispute affect Iran's nuclear weapons program? Very little, if at all. A senior Mossad official also told the closed- door committee, that the current clashes were linked to internal domestic issues and not the nuclear project. In fact, the so- called moderate Mousavi had actually initiated the nuclear weapons program when he served as prime minister.

So, even if Mousavi had been elected president, Iran would still have continued developing the bomb. The decision had been taken by the all powerful Supreme Council of Muslim leaders. Paradoxically, if' Mousavi with his 'reformist' image had been elected it would have made it more difficult to mobilize stiffer sanctions against Iran. Surprisingly, Dagan said the election-rigging was no worse than in many other countries. The Mossad believed that Mousavi was more popular than Ahmadinejad in Tehran and one rural region.

'If unhampered, Iran could get the bomb by 2014. This would threaten Israel's existence and we must distance this threat!'

Kadima MK Avi Dichter then popped the key question. When did the Mossad estimate Iran could have an operation nuclear weapon? The Mossad director replied: 'If unhampered, Iran could get the bomb by 2014. This would threaten Israel's existence and we must distance this threat!' If Iran succeeds, it will trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. Moderate Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states are deeply concerned about a nuclear Iran that seeks to dominate the Middle East. If Iran gets the bomb, several of these states, which now have peaceful nuclear programs, will also develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian missiles (photo: MEHR)

Meanwhile, Tehran was monitoring the U.S. response to North Korea's expanded nuclear weapons program. The outcome of that confrontation could influence how Tehran proceeds. ( In 2003, the Iranians temporarily disbanded a nuclear weaponization unit out of concern for the American forces who had invaded neighboring Iraq.) Iran, North Korea and Syria were working in close cooperation. For its part, the U.S. was loath to open a new front against Iran. Washington now  viewed Tehran as having a role to play by either helping or hindering U.S. efforts to evacuate Iraq and resolve the crises in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mossad director Dagan had not lost all hope of stopping Iran by diplomatic means. The international sanctions have impacted on Iran but they needed to be intensified. If they were: ' Maybe it was still possible to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program'.

IsraCast Conclusions:

1. Although the clashes between radical Islamists and more secular Iranians are unlikely to halt the nuclear weapons project, they reveal how susceptible the country would be to international sanctions, if they had more teeth in them. Unemployment is running rampant with over three-million young Iranians entering the work-force annually. This results in a deteriorating standard of living for most of the people, while vast sums are funneled into a nuclear weapons program that puts the country at risk.

2. The latest Mossad assessment gives the Netanyahu government a breathing-space before taking a decision on whether to go it alone against Iran, if all else fails. Previously, IDF intelligence revealed that Iran, if it chose, could produce enough weapons-grade uranium within one year for one nuclear weapon. This created a greater sense of urgency in Israel. However, the Mossad has now stressed several more years would be required for Iran to convert that uranium into an operational nuclear weapon on the launch pad. The implication is, that although the Israel Air force reportedly conducted an air simulation of an all-out strike on Iran's nuclear installations more than a year ago, no order will be given in the near future. Shortly after taking office, President Obama was said to have sent a secret envoy to Jerusalem seeking a commitment from Prime Minister Netanyahu that he would not 'surprise' the U.S. by attacking Iran. Israel and the U.S. are now in the same time-frame.

3. To date, Israeli officials have steered clear of saying anything that could be misconstrued as trying to influence the election outcome. The  former IDF intelligence chief Maj.Gen.(ret.) Zeevi Farkash quipped: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for Israel to say and do nothing'. But obviously the brutal, dictatorial regime in Tehran has revealed the true nature of Obama's nuclear negotiating partner. As Tom Friedman of the New York Times concluded: ' Can a regime that lies to its own people about the election be expected to tell the truth to Obama about its nuclear weapons program?' In essence, there does not appear to be that much difference between the devious goals of the regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran.

David Essing

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