debkafile Exclusive: Gates’ words imply the Bush administration will disavow its long-held pledge to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons

The designated defense secretary Robert Gates’ replied to the Senate committee’s at his confirmation hear Tuesday: “If Iran obtains nuclear weapons no one can promise it would not use them against Israel.”
debkafile‘s military sources note: This assertion presupposes that Iran will not be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Gates spoke in the plural about nuclear weapons. In all, he addressed three messages to Jerusalem: 1. There are no assurances that we will be able to prevent an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel. 2. Iran’s nuclear arsenal will contain different types of weapons. 3. On the nuclear issue, you are on your own; don’t count on us for a response.
These messages slap down the policy laid down by prime minister Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni which assigned responsibility for handling the Iranian nuclear threat to the international community and the US and absolved the Israeli government and armed forces.
Gates’ admission that “The US is not winning war in Iraq” is another first from a senior administration official (Later, he tried to amend without changing its import by saying: “We are not losing either.”). He also conveyed to the Senate committee his belief that developments in Iraq over the next year or two will shape the entire Middle East and greatly influence global geopolitics for many years to come.”
Until Nov. 8, when President Bush nominated Gates in place of Donald Rumsfeld, the nominee was a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Team, which submits its final report Wednesday.
debkafile: The two statements on Iran and Iraq have broad implications for Israel’s strategic and military standing. What they add up to is a harsh reality: The United States, by failing to overcome the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq, and Israel, by similarly failing to subdue Hizballah in the Lebanon war, will have to pay the price of coming to terms with the nuclear weaponization of the Islamic Republic.
This may be Gates’ promo for the Baker-Hamilton report. But, more significantly, he sounds as though he is leading up to a fresh White House conception of Persian Gulf strategy – namely that America’s security interests do not warrant any further involvement in the Gulf region. Since it does not depend on Arabian oil like China, Japan, India and other Far Eastern nations, why should the US saddle itself with the protection of the region’s oil resources and routes?
This shift in strategic emphasis, if confirmed, would have a profound influence – not only on Israel, but also on Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the oil emirates. But they, unlike Israel, are not caught unawares, having prepared themselves for the past year by opening up alternative sources of weapons and making massive transfers of assets to Asian markets.

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