Yossi Melman reports (Hebrew) at Walla that western and Israeli sources confirm that there are no major advances in the Iranian nuclear program, as was reported widely a few days ago by Barak Ravid in Haaretz thanks to leaks by Ehud Barak and Bibi Netanyahu. Melman says his sources claim that the leaks are a politically-motivated campaign by the prime minister’s and defense minister’s offices. Melman also claims that the U.S. is angry that Barak revealed classified intelligence data. Melman notes, as I wrote here recently, that there is no new report, but rather a partial report shared among various U.S. agencies, presumably before publication. Any serious intelligence official knows that such information is preliminary and subject to change as the various government entities hash out their positions about the data. Judgments are subject to modification and even reversal.
The U.S. administration is none too happy that Barak was only too happy to go blabbing to his journalist friends about the contents of those discussions:
“This is an irresponsible and unprecedented act,” said an American official. “Something like this has never happened…that secret intelligence would be revealed either deliberately or unintentionally to the media. It’s exceedingly rare that a defense minister of a U.S. ally would speak out to the media about the existence of such a report, and bring forth details from it in order to advance his own political agenda.”
Little does he know or understand Barak’s history in such matters. The only thing that matters is self-preservation to which all else is subordinated.
What we have here is one veteran Israeli intelligence correspondent (Melman) calling out both the leaders of the Israeli war camp and indirectly, their trusty stenographers (Ravid and others) in the media who dutifully report the lies and exaggerations they report.
Melman further reports that his sources say that Israeli and U.S. intelligence too have not found any speed-up of the pace of Iranian nuclear development. So in this sense, Barak and Bibi are directly disputing the findings of their own intelligence agency (shades of Bush-Cheney: when has that ever happened before?). Their goal in these leaks is to create the impression in the world at large that there is an urgent new advance in Iran’s nuclear program that requires immediate military intervention on the part of Israel.
The journalist reports that Iran has 11,000 centrifuges enriching uranium, with four tons enriched under 5% and 170 kg enriched up to 20%. If enriched to 90%, this material could produce up to five nuclear devices. But Iran has not yet crossed such a threshhold. And there is no known intensification of, or major change in the Iranian program. Further, Iran’s Supreme Leader has not give any order to proceed to create a nuclear weapon. Iran, according to this account, is at least one and a half to two years or more from being able to do this. But without a suitable missile, it can’t even proceed beyond creating the warhead.
Truly, this is a shameful journalistic performance by Haaretz and its political correspondent, Barak Ravid. A story which should have been retracted has continued making the rounds and the original errors have been amplified by subsequent erroneous reporting in the pages of Israel’s supposedly “liberal,” “left-leaning” paper.