Friday, December 21, 2007

"Israel is not going to allow its nuclear monopoly to be threatened."

'Israel will attack Iran on its own'

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"I came back from a trip to Israel in November convinced that Israel would attack Iran," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and senior adviser to three US presidents, George W. Bush among them, told the American Newsweek magazine in an article published Friday.

Citing conversations he had in Israel with officials in Mossad and the Israeli defense establishment, Riedel concluded that "Israel is not going to allow its nuclear monopoly to be threatened."

While some US experts doubt Israel's ability to tackle Iran alone, David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, was quoted by Newsweek as saying that although information on the exact location of Iran's nuclear facility is incomplete, Israel's air strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility on September 6, widely discussed in foreign media outlets, could be seen as a test run for any future strike on Iran's facilities, as well as a direct warning to Teheran.

Riedel told the magazine his impression that Israel would venture a strike on Iran on its own was formed before the publication of the joint US intelligence agencies' report, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). "This [the NIE] makes it [a strike on Iran] even more likely," he said.

Since the publication of the NIE, which reversed a previous American assessment by concluding that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, leaders worldwide have been adjusting their publicly stated positions on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Even inside the US, President Bush attempted some damage control by stating a day after the report's publication that "Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous...."