NATO has begun taking a major interest in intelligence information about Iran's nuclear program, according to Israeli defense officials who recently held talks with senior officers in the Western military alliance.
NATO's interest stems from growing concern that diplomacy will ultimately fail, the Israeli officials told The Jerusalem Post this week, and that military action will be necessary to stop Iran's race to obtain nuclear weapons.
Earlier in the month, IDF Military Intelligence (MI) hosted a NATO conference on global terrorism and intelligence, following which high-ranking MI officers said Israel planned to establish an intelligence-sharing mechanism with NATO.
"There is a growing interest on NATO's part regarding the intelligence collected around the world on Iran's nuclear program," a senior defense official said. "They want to get to know the material just in case."
According to the official, Iran was, until now, a "taboo" issue for NATO and was rarely brought up in official functions and talks between member countries. The official said that recently senior military officials in NATO have expressed growing interest in the up-to-date Israeli assessment on Iran.
A diplomatic official said that Iran was a "sensitive issue" for NATO and that while there were certainly countries - like the United States - that would like to see possible NATO involvement on the issue, other members from Europe were so far preventing this from happening.
"There are people who want this issue to come up and want NATO to start talking about Iran," the official said. An important organization with great military capabilities, NATO, the official said, should at least begin to discuss the nuclear threat emanating from Iran even without connection to possible military action against the Islamic Republic.
"This should be on NATO's agenda," the official said. "But since NATO works by consensus among its members, countries have the ability to prevent discussions on certain issues."
In line with the efforts to enhance military cooperation with NATO, the IDF plans to dispatch a Navy officer to Naples in the coming weeks, where he will participate in Operation Active Endeavor.
NATO launched Operation Active Endeavor in the wake of 9/11 and has succeeded in bringing together a number of countries from the Mediterranean that work together in a joint headquarters based out of Naples and share information concerning naval terror.