Mossad chief in secret talks with US over strike on Iran
Daily Telegraph / Phoebe Greenwood / February 14, 2012
Tamir Pardo, the head of Mossad, made a secret trip to Washington earlier this month to gauge the likely American reaction to an independent Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The highly sensitive content of Pardo’s discussion with his American counterparts has been revealed… in a Newsweek article entitled Obama’s Dangerous Game With Iran.
Unnamed US officials claim that the Israeli security chief’s line of questioning to David Petraeus, the CIA chief, ran: “What is our posture on Iran? Are we ready to bomb? Would we [do so later]? What does it mean if [Israel] does it anyway?”
Petraeus told a Senate select committee in a public hearing last month that he had met Pardo to discuss Israel’s growing concern over Iran’s nuclear aspirations. When asked in the same briefing if Israel intended to strike, James Clapper, the director of US national intelligence, told the committee he would prefer to answer the question behind closed doors. US sources quoted in the Newsweek report added that Israel has refused to share with the US a “significant” amount of intelligence regarding its military preparations.
Israeli officials refused to respond to the article yesterday.
According to Yehuda Ben Meir, a former Israeli deputy minister of foreign affairs and an expert on Israel-US relations, full American backing was by no means a prerequisite for an Israeli strike. “It’s a matter of degrees of grey – will the US apply strong pressure on Israel to hold off on attack or will it say, ‘We don’t think this is the right time to act but it’s your decision’?” Mr Ben Meir said. “The outcome depends on a very nuanced exchange at the highest possible level.
“The situation is developing day by day. More and more, the US position is going out on a limb and making it clear that it sees a nuclear Iran as an unacceptable danger to the world and if they decide to, they can prevent it.”
Washington has so far held a clear line on Iran, asking for time and space for sanctions to work. But while the Iranian economy has suffered, news that India has emerged as the largest customer of Iranian oil, flouting an international trade embargo, will undoubtedly lessen the crippling effect of sanctions for which the US is hoping.