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IAEA - Current Iran Sanctions a Failure

Latest IAEA Report Supports Israel's Case That Current Sanctions Have Failed To Slow Down Iran's Nuclear Weapons Project

New York Times: 'American Intelligence Analysts Continue To Believe There Is No Hard Evidence That Iran Has Decided To Build Nuclear Bomb'

IsraCast Assessment: Rather Than Forcing Iranian Slowdown, EU Oil Embargo For July1 Has Speeded Up Iran's Nuclear Weapons Drive

Iranian Nuclear Reactor

 Iran has actually stepped up its nuclear weapons program - that is the only reasonable conclusion from the latest IAEA report disclosed on February 23. The findings have vindicated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's position that the latest sanctions fall short of deterring Tehran. However, the U.S. intelligence community still contends that it has 'no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb'. Analyst David Essing is of the view the IAEA findings will lend urgency to Netanyahu's upcoming meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

 Rather than deterring Tehran, the EU oil embargo set for July1 has backfired - the IAEA reports 'Iran has rapidly ramped up prodcution of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last few months'. Ninety percent grade is required for a nuclear bomb. Moreover, Iran provided no convincing explanation about a quantity of missing uranium metal that is suitable 'for experiments in arming a nuclear missile'. In addition, two IAEA missions to Tehran in less than a month have failed to 'dent Iran's refusals' to assist an IAEA probe into whether Iran has been working secretly on aspects of a nuclear weapons program. Therefore the IAEA continued to have 'serious concerns' about an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

If it looks like a duck... This latest IAEA expose would seem to dispel any reasonable doubt about what the Iranians are up to already without knowing what may soon be going on inside the new underground facility at Fordo. Or does it? While the IAEA was releasing its latest findings in Vienna, in Washington U.S. intellignce experts were telling the New York Times that ' there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb'. This was said to be consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandooned its nuclear weapons program years earlier. The officials said this assessment was reafirmed in a 2010 NIE and that it remain the consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies. It goes without saying that Israeli decision-makers will have to read it to believe it! Their predictable ractio is likely to be: 'If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - guess what? The IAEA report could not ghave comes at a better time for Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak; they will soon be leaving for separate talks in Washington. But with the presidential election looming in November, President Obama is determined not to escalate the crisis with Tehran at a time that his Republican rivals are accusing him of being indecisive in his handling of the Iranian crisis.

The IAEA findings could lead to verbal fireworks when Netanyahu and Obama meet privately in the White House. What is clear is that Obama squadered three valuable years in his futile engagement bambit with the Iranians who led him on a merry chase. Now seeking or a second term with an election breathing down his neck, Obama may have run out of room for maneuver. (Or as once put eloquently in the words of the Bard 'the time is out of joint'.) Obviously the President will fall back on the CIA's assessment but this begs a big question - how come such the biggest intelligence service in the world is less efficient in monitoring Iran than is the International Atomic Energy Agency? Henry Kissinger once said the U.S. intelligence community tends to produce assessments in line with the political leadership. On the other hand, in his memoirs former CIA Director George Tenet did not hide his ire at being made the fall guy by the Bush administration for the war in Iraq and the weapons of mass destruction fiasco.

Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

So Obama will again lean on Netanyahu not to surprise the U.S. by going it alone against Iran. On the other hand, the Israeli leader might seek an unequivocal pledge from Obama that if he wins a second term, he will order an American military strike against Iran if it continues its nuclear weapons development. Obama's current position that 'all options are on the table' has begun to sound like diplomatic prevaricating in Jerusalem. But if the IAEA report leads, as it obviously will, to a wider gulf in the Israeli and U.S. intelligence assessments, this will increase the credibility gap between the two leaders. Defense Minister Barak has stressed the principle that Israel is a soverign state and the Israeli government bears sole responsibilty for its security.

And one closing comment from Prof. Yehezkel Dror, a leading Israeli expert on how the country's dec ision - making process works. Dror believes that only five to ten military, intelligence or civilian officials know all the facts pertaining to the issue of an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. In his view, the public debate in Israel is in keeping with its democratic principles but another conclusion is that many of the experts be they Israeli or foreign who are quoted by the media really don't have the whole picture.

David Essing

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