Interior of Bushehr nuclear plant 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
The 14-member Security Cabinet, the body authorized to approve military attacks,
met Tuesday to hear the annual intelligence assessments provided by the
country’s intelligence agencies.
The 10-hour meeting is believed to be
the first time in months that this body conducted an in-depth discussion on Iran
that is believed to have included timelines, Iran’s “zones of immunity,” and
what sanctions could still be adopted.
The situation in Egypt and Syria
was also discussed.
The forum is highly classified, and even advisers to
the ministers were not allowed into the meeting that took place in the center of
The ministers were briefed by the heads of the Mossad, Shin
Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) and Military Intelligence.
details were made available. While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inner
cabinet, which is made up of eight ministers, can give an advisory opinion on
whether to attack Iran, the actual decision needs to be made by the security
cabinet. This body could also choose to bring such a decision to the full
In addition to Netanyahu, the security cabinet
includes Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias,
Minister-without- Portfolio Bennie Begin, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe
Ya’alon, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau,
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and
Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom.
This body includes eight
Likud ministers, three from Yisrael Beytenu, two from Shas and Barak from the
Independence Party. Another four ministers are observers.
It is likely
that among the issues discussed were the “red lines” that Israel would like the
United States to establish as a way of deterring Iran from moving ahead. While
Netanyahu has not publicly declared what he thinks those red lines should be,
Uzi Arad, the former head of the National Security Council, said that they could
include a declaration that any uranium enrichment beyond 20 percent would be a
direct trigger for military action.
Arad, in an Israel Radio interview,
said other possible red lines could be the discovery of additional uranium
enrichment plants – like the once secret facilities at Natanz and Fordow – or
the interference with the work of International Atomic Energy Agency
In addition, Arad said that the US has not yet spoken in
“categorical terms” making crystal clear its determination to stop the Iranian
An example of this, he said, would be clearer presidential
declarations to the effect that the US will not tolerate or allow a nuclear
Iran, and will use all means to prevent it.
expressions of this determination, Arad said, could be congressional
authorization now of the use of force if diplomacy fails to convince the
Iranians to halt, and a clear statement that the military objective of any US
action would not be to “buy time,” but rather to prevent Iran from ever being
able to build a nuclear bomb.