Gov't official: No 'smoking gun' on Iran

Tells 'Post' difference about Israeli, US knowledge on nuclear program over interpretation, not facts.

Natanz 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Natanz 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel does not have "smoking gun" intelligence that will force an American reassessment of its National Intelligence Estimate that Iran halted its nuclear weapons plan in 2003, a government official told The Jerusalem Post Monday. The official's comments came as a delegation from Military Intelligence is in the US for meetings with American officials about Iran. Another diplomatic official labeled as either "very arrogant" or "naive" the idea that all Israel had to do was reveal one piece of information to get the US intelligence community to say it erred and will "take it all back and follow Israel's line." The official said it was clear that the Americans pretty much know what Israel knows about the Iranian nuclear program and that the difference is not over the facts but rather over their interpretation. "If we had information that we held back, then we have only ourselves to blame for the US report," the official said. According to a government official, there were some positive elements in the NIE report, most importantly its conclusion that Iran did indeed have a weapons program up until 2003. No one, he said, knows the "destiny" of that program. The official said the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency now must be to investigate and see what came out of that program. "If Iran wanted to show in 2003 that it had dismantled its program, imagine the international credit it would have received," the official said, adding that Teheran probably chose not to do so "for good reason." The official said Iran was both continuing with its uranium enrichment efforts and developing a weapons delivery system, and that if this continued, it could reach nuclear capabilities by 2009 at the earliest, and 2012 at the latest. "Israel can't take the risk that Iran will be nuclear," the official said. The official, who reiterated Israel's position that sanctions must continue and be stepped up, said Britain, France and Germany remained determined to impose sanctions, and that the NIE did not change their positions. The US State Department's John Rood arrived in Israel Saturday night for talks about Iran. He was appointed the acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security in September, putting him in charge of non- and counter-proliferation matters and arms control at the State Department. He also oversees disarmament compliance and verification, regional security and defense relations. Rood previously served as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation. In that position, he was responsible for developing policies to curb weapons of mass destruction proliferation, exercise arms export controls and related issues. He traveled to Israel in the spring, comparing notes and coordinating nonproliferation and antiterrorism efforts. Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.