Israel Update

Iran: As Israel Sees It

U.S. Says Teheran is Not Making a Bomb

by Shira Sorko-Ram

In one of the most bizarre twists of U.S. foreign policy since the American army found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the U.S. intelligence community delivered a stunning about-face in their assessment of Iranian nuclear ambitions.

All 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran stopped pursuing a nuclear weapons development program in the fall of 2003, due to, they say, international pressure.

Actually, the truth is that before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came on the Iranian scene (August 2005), the world community really didn't put a lot of pressure on Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program because their focus was elsewhere - in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) last month gives no other clue as to why Iran's plans to make nuclear bombs came to a dead stop in 2003.

Two years ago in May 2005 the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies reported in their NIE "with high confidence that Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons."

Last month the same 16 agencies reported, "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Teheran halted its nuclear weapons program."

What is striking about this latest NIE assessment is that it basically repeats what it publicized in 2005 - but with very different conclusions. The recent analysis continues:

1. Fissile material (enriched uranium) could be diverted to hidden nuclear sites to create nuclear weapons.
2. Iran has the technical and industrial capacity to build a bomb.
3. Iran could produce a nuclear weapon anytime from 2010-2015.

Not much different at all from what they said two years ago! So why the sudden change in conclusions by the American intelligence community?

In an article called "Bushwhacked" by the Jerusalem Post's Editor-in-Chief David Horowitz, he writes that after a close reading of the material released from the National Intelligence Estimate, he has come to the conclusion that the May 2005 report and the December 2007 report are basically the same.

What is clear, Horowitz says, is that Iran "has made huge strides towards a nuclear capability. Indisputably it is constantly improving its uranium enrichment capabilities." At best it is only a couple of years from a bomb, if not sooner.

Besides, Horowitz reminds us, Teheran holds the world's second largest oil and natural gas reserves. He points out that "investing colossal sums of money in uranium enrichment and  related activities for the sole purpose of developing alternate energy sources is precisely zero."

He states that the further he got into the official report the scarier it became: "Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons," reads the report. Really?

Here is what the U.S. agencies are really saying, concludes Horowitz. "The Iranians are bent on achieving a nuclear weapons capability, have the skills to do so and have established covert programs for doing so, are determinedly expanding the uranium enrichment activities crucial to such a goal, and can be expected to again switch to covert strategies when they make their final push for a nuclear device." (Jerusalem Post, 7Dec07)

AGENDAS SHAPE CONCLUSIONS
One of the most astute observers in Israel, Yuval Steinitz, member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and head of its subcommittee on intelligence, says both the U.S. and Israel agree that Iran's "civilian" uranium enrichment program is continuing and could one day, fairly quickly, turn into a military program easily capable of producing a bomb.

Steinitz explains the results of what he calls the "pendulum syndrome" that affects many intelligence agencies. The U.S. "is influenced," he says, "by a political agenda and is still  traumatized by the blatant intelligence failure vis-vis Iraq's alleged WMD, and therefore does not want to be caught crying wolf again. Israel, on the other hand, must maintain a worst case scenario point of view. One single miscalculation in assessment could mean the end of Israel.

"As a result of these traumas," explains Steinitz "each country interprets the situation a little differently. Israel takes the more stringent track, since it is better to be safe than sorry. America takes the more lax approach, so as not to find itself in the midst of an unjustifiable war." (J.P. 7Dec07)

When it is all said and done, Israel and the U.S., and even some European countries agree on the dangers. The unanswered question is what is the time line? Is it 2009 as Israel fears? Or is it 2010-2015 as the NIE estimates?

Former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, who is in charge of strategic dialogue with the U.S. on Iran, simply says that the U.S., Europe and Israel do not know enough about Iran's attempts to develop nuclear weapons. The intelligence estimate can simply be interpreted in many ways.

WILL SANCTIONS HELP?
But what were the U.S. intelligence officials thinking when they released such a report? Did they not know that they would take the wind out of all President George Bush's attempts to pull together the United Nations Security Council to impose stronger sanctions against Iran? Wouldn't they be aware that their assessment would embolden Iran and its radical leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to actually speed up their nuclear programs, both overt and covert?

Israeli officials across the board believe that sanctions could make the difference. Heavy sanctions could so hurt the Iranian economy that the ayatollahs could be forced to stop their nuclear pursuits. Sanctions are the only hope for avoiding a war - now or later - according to Israeli thinking.

But Conservative columnist Daniel Pipes fears that the NIE has greatly damaged the chances that the U.N. Security Council will now impose tougher sanctions. He fears that the U.N. resolution will be so watered down that it will have little impact on Mr. Ahmadinejad and company. He lashed out at the American intelligence agencies, calling them "short-sighted, smallminded, blatantly partisan intelligence bureaucrats, trying to hide unpleasant realities," which he believes will engineer their own nightmare. (http://www.danielpipes.org/)

IS WAR IMMINENT?
Almost certainly, the NIE conclusions have put the kabash on a U.S. military strike on Iran's massive nuclear facilities during the remainder of George Bush's term. Yet one thing is for sure. Israel cannot entertain the slightest possibility of a first-strike against her, as one nuclear bomb would obliterate the Jewish state.
That possibility may bring Israel to face the need for a pre-emptive strike. But the chances of success are not very great. There are hundreds of known nuclear sites in Iran and Israel's air force assets are small compared to U.S. missile capabilities.

"There are multiple targets, all well protected, [plus] full Iranian awareness that Israel has them within range," reflects editor Horowitz. Besides that, Iran has the expertise and the raw materials to rebuild after any attack, "and a terrifying Iranian capacity to retaliate."

Yet it may fall to Israel to choose between accepting a nuclear Iran or going it alone to knock them out. Indeed, if the ayatollahs do get the bomb, "they wouldn't even have to use it in order to totally destroy our Israeli economy and shatter our national psyche," observes Horowitz.

Another incredible danger would be if Iran supplied Hizbullah or some other terrorist group with a nuclear weapon. "Iran seems to be gaining the upper hand," writes Horowitz. "For when all the nuances of the latest American intelligence estimate are digested, the fundamental message is that Iran, as things stand, is serenely enriching the material it needs for a bomb and will be able to weaponize as soon as it wants to." (JP 7Dec07)
Without ever detonating a nuclear weapon Iran could wreak havoc both in terms of international security and the world economy.

Analyst Yaakov Katz reminds at the same time, however, Israel is aware that even if it might be left alone to deal with Iran militarily it will need American assistance. Without the codes to American fighter jets in the region - particularly those operating over Iraq and Afghanistan - an attack by Israel's air force would go from extremely difficult to almost impossible. When Israel requested these codes in 1991 during the First Gulf War to respond to Saddam Hussein's Scud attacks on Israel, the U.S. said no and the Israeli planes stayed at their bases.

Katz emphasizes that Israel should be investing great effort in making sure that if the time comes, the U.S., its Number One ally, will deliver the needed assistance. (Ibid.)

ISRAEL'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE GLOBAL STRUGGLE
Israeli Journalist Menashe Amir puts it this way. The ayatollahs have three ambitions they plan to accomplish in three phases.

1. They want to destroy Israel. They see it as a religious imperative. We are on "occupied Muslim territory." We must be removed.

2. They want to assert leadership over the Muslim world. And they are using Israel and the Palestinian issue as the focal point to draw the Muslim world behind them.

3. Furthermore, they want to confront Christianity and Western culture - to defeat the infidels. (ibid.,15Dec06)

Conservative opinion makers such as Daniel Pipes believe that the NIE report could bring war closer than ever. "The NIE has sent a signal," says Pipes, "to the apocalyptic-minded leadership in Teheran that the danger of external sanctions has ended, that it can go undisturbed about its bomb-building business." If the NIE weakens the already shaky U.N. resolve to invoke sanctions then the only solution to stop Iran would be an attack - either by the U.S. or Israel. (http://www.danielpipes.org/)

This morning, the day I am finishing this article, I woke up to the headlines: Dichter: U.S. report on Iran may lead to a 'Yom Kippur' war. Avi Dicter is Israel's Public Security Minister and former head of Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and probably knows as many of Iran's secrets as any westerner alive. He warns that Israel could suffer a surprise attack from Iran just as she did on Yom Kippur of 1973 when the combined armies of Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. (Ibid., 18Dec07) For the first few days of that war, it appeared that Israel might be thrown into the sea. Once again, the God of Israel did not let that happen, but Israel lost more than six thousand soldiers within three weeks.

WHAT SHOULD BE THE REACTION OF BELIEVERS?
It might be the tendency of born again believers, Jews or Christians, to be somewhat unperturbed, even with this information. The reason being that we all know what the Bible promises: Israel will never cease being a nation before God (Jeremiah 31:36), one day all Israel will be saved, (Romans 11:26) and God Himself will fight for Israel (Zechariah 14:3). Israel will not be thrown into the sea.

However - and this is a very big "however" - the Bible does not say how many wars Israel will have to go through before the end comes, before Israel is saved - both physically and spiritually. The prince of Persia, of whom the angel Gabriel spoke to Daniel, is obviously on the war path again. Gabriel explained to the prophet that he, Gabriel, had no one fighting with him except Michael, Israel's prince. (Daniel 10:20)

If you will bear with me, I don't believe the success of Israel's military in this existential struggle is dependent on how many Russian Jews immigrate to Israel, although this phenomenon is clearly prophesied in the Old Testament. Nor is it dependent on bringing Jews from Ethiopia or any other country to the land, although the Word of God promises this will happen. It isn't even how many hospitals or orphans Christians give to in Israel, or how many trees they plant - although these are good and righteous things to do, and should be done.
Before you wonder where I am going, let me simply put the emphasis where I think it should be. Israel's future is dependent on Jewish men, women and children turning back to the God of Israel, repenting of their sins and receiving the atonement of God's sacrificial Lamb, Yeshua.

Help will come from the Lord as more and more Israelis turn their faces towards heaven, pleading for mercy and help from above. The angel Michael will bring in His troops at the Lord's directives when the Jewish people call on Him to do so.

The Gospel must be preached to the Israeli people.

It's that simple.


Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram are the founders of Maoz Israel Ministries. The mission of MAOZ is: 1) To declare the Message of Messiah and make disciples in the city of Tel Aviv and throughout Israel. 2) To raise up Israeli leaders to prepare for the coming spiritual awakening among the people of Israel. 3) To educate and inform Christians world-wide of the strategic importance of Israel and the Jewish people in God's plan for world revival. The MAOZ web site is http://www.maozisrael.org/.

 

 

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