Wikileaks: Israeli attack on Iran may lead to nuclear war

US diplomatic cables reveal Australian intelligence concerns over conflict between Israel and Iran as "greatest challenge to stability" in Middle East.

December 13, 2010 10:46
2 minute read.
Workers in the Bushehr nuclear power plant

Bushehr pic newer. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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Australian intelligence agencies feared that Israel will attack Iran, leading to nuclear war, according to US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks on Monday.

"The Australian Intelligence Community's leading concerns with respect to Iran's nuclear ambitions center on understanding the timeframe of a possible weapons capability, and working with the United States to prevent Israel from independently launching uncoordinated military strikes against Iran," the cable reads.

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Australians raised the issue of Israel possibly attacking Iran several times.

According to the cables, released exclusively to Australian paper The Age, "they are immediately concerned that Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities would lead to a conventional war - or even nuclear exchange - in the Middle East involving the United States that would draw Australia into a conflict."

A cable from July 2008 showed that then-Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd was "deeply worried" that "Israel may feel forced to use 'non-diplomatic' means" to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

In December 2008, Peter Varghese, then chief of Australian intelligence agency ONA, met with Randall Fort, then head of the State Department's bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). The embassy report on the meeting said that ONA "were particularly interested in A/S Fort and INR's assessments on Israeli 'red lines' on Iran's nuclear program and the likelihood of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities."


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The cable added that Varghese said that the possibility of conflict between Israel and Iran "clearly represented the greatest challenge to stability" in the Middle East.

Varghese also said that ''it's a mistake to think of Iran as a 'rogue state.' 'ONA analysts assessed that Teheran 'knows' about its lack of certain capabilities, but plays 'beyond its hand' very skilfully … ONA judged that Iran's activities in Iraq - both overt and covert - represented an extreme manifestation of Iranian strategic calculus, designed to 'outflank' the US in the region.''

The ONA ''asserted that … the most effective means by which Teheran could ensure its national security would be a strategic relationship with the US via some 'grand bargain'.''

In March 2009, the US embassy in Canberra wrote that the Australian government was ''more broadly concerned about the potential for renewed nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, driving south-east Asian states to abandon the [nuclear non-proliferation treaty] and pursue their own nuclear capabilities, which could introduce a direct threat to the Australian homeland."

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