Netanyahu planned to bomb Iran in 2010; army balked at plans

Saleh Naami , Sunday 11 Nov 2012

An investigative report on Israeli television reveals that Israel was prepared two years ago to take unilateral action on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet (AP Photo)

An investigative report on Israeli Channel 2, broadcast 6 November, produced and presented by Ilana Dayan on the programme Ovda, included reference to documents, testimonials and statements by senior Israeli and US officials saying that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued orders to the leaders of the Israeli army in 2010 to prepare for a strike on Iran without the permission of his Cabinet.

The attack was foiled when then Mossad chief Maier Dagan objected, saying that a strike against Iran without authorisation from the government was illegal. Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said such an attack could strategically harm Israel.

The report also contained several key facts:

1. The shift that made the Americans change their minds about a report issued by the US National Intelligence Agency at the end of 2007, that stated the Iranians had stopped their nuclear programme, was a meeting 31 May 2008 between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former US President George W Bush in Olmert’s office in Jerusalem. Everyone was asked to clear the room and leave the two leaders alone. Olmert then presented Bush with critical intelligence obtained by Mossad that convinced Bush Iran was still forging ahead with its nuclear programme.

2. After this meeting, Bush issued strict orders to intelligence agencies to fully cooperate with Israeli intelligence, and routine meetings began between intelligence officers on both sides to exchange information.

3. The television report noted that despite extensive and close cooperation, Bush let decision makers in Tel Aviv know that he was unequivocally opposed to Israel attacking Iranian nuclear facilities.

4. Steve Hadley, then US national security adviser, was interviewed in the television report and said that Israelis obtained highly valuable intelligence by relying on human sources inside Iran. This means they were able to recruit valuable agents inside Tehran. The report also indicated that Israel succeeded in infiltration by recruiting people involved in Iran’s nuclear programme.

5. The television report confirmed that Mossad invested heavily in obtaining this intelligence, by sending groups to Iran and other areas to gather relevant intelligence.

6. Olmert was also interviewed for the television expose and indicated that Israel is behind the rash of assassinations of nuclear scientists in Iran during 2007 and 2008, and since then.

7. Olmert said: “The number of decisions taken on Iran during my tenure of less than three years [was] far more than those that preceded or followed my term.”

8. Israeli and American officials agreed on the decisive role Dagan played as Mossad chief in managing what was described as a “successful” war on Iran’s nuclear programme. As soon as he took the top job in Mossad in 2002, he established a committee in charge of combatting the Iranian nuclear project by gathering intelligence, developing and implementing plots to foil it.

9. During the interview, Olmert indicated that his decision to bomb Syria’s nuclear facility at the end of 2006 was intensely opposed by the US administration, his defence minister, Ehud Barak, and military intelligence.

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