Israeli intelligence is among the best in the world, and is probably the best when it comes to what is happening in the Middle East and with radical Islamic terror groups...Once again the United States is foolishly ignoring Israeli intelligence, this time vis a vis Iran. Considering the poor track record of American intelligence in the Middle East you would think that the Bush administration would trust what Israeli agencies and officials have to say just a bit more. Sadly that is not the case.
I am reminded of another pronouncement from Israeli intelligence sources way back in September, 2002, six months before the U.S. invaded Iraq. It said, in a nutshell, that Saddam Hussein had been successfully contained and the real danger in the region was Iran. President Bush ignored this assessment. He also ignored a CIA report which predicted the Iraqi insurgency before the war, a report which turned out to be prescient. Over 1,000 American service men and women have paid the price for President Bush's decision to ignore both Israeli and CIA reports which simply did not support his decision to invade Iraq.
Both Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Deputy Defense Minister, MK Ephraim Sneh, have made the case that Iran did halt it's nuclear program in 2003 but then promptly restarted it. Israeli intelligence clearly believes that Iran is still aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. From the Jerusalem Post:
The Mossad claims that the Iranians will be able to develop a nuclear bomb by the end of 2009; Military Intelligence warns that Teheran will cross the technological threshold within six months; and now the Americans are putting the timeline toward the middle of the next decade, or 2013 at the earliest.
Defense officials in Tel Aviv admitted Tuesday that the report would probably embolden Iran, even though the differences between Israel and the US were not so great as a superficial reading of the report might indicate.
In other words, not only is the NIE wrong but it actually makes things more dangerous. The The IDF is sharing it's data with the U.S. military but it is not at all clear that anyone in the Bush administration is willing to reconsider the issue.
Iran is not only a threat to Israel. They will happily share nuclear weapons technology with Islamist groups. When will America wake up and realize that Iran still would like to harm the U.S. or, in Iranian terms, "the Great Satan"? I fear it may only be after an American city is wiped off the map.