Gates: US has no policy for stalling Iran’s nuclear drive
The New York Times Sunday, April 18, reveals a secret memo from US Defense Security Robert Gates determining that the White House has no effective policy for dealing with Iran's steady progress towards nuclear capability. This confirms what debkafile has been saying for more than a year, while also exposing the hollowness of the assurances of Israeli leaders – current and past – that it was safe to line up behind US strategy for preventing Iran obtaining nuclear weapons..
Gates confirmed that there was no strategy to line up behind.
Even so, in the last couple of weeks, President Shimon Peres, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, defense ministry Ehud Barak and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi have still not abandoned their mantra: It is not up to Israel to address the Iranian nuclear issue, but "the free world," starting with the United States. This is strange, since in all their long conversations with the US defense secretary in recent weeks, they must have discovered that the Obama administration was out of options for Iran. So why have the prime minister and defense minister not switched course and developed an independent position on Israel's vital security concerns before it is too late – or at least stopped deceiving the public with false comfort?
According to debkafile's Washington sources, the Gates memo, filed in January to National Security Adviser James Jones, was leaked now, even though it demonstrates the US president's standard rhetoric on Iran was without substance, in order to bring out the fact that the Obama administration has become reconciled to the reality of an Islamic Republic capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons.
The memo stressed a variety concerns "including the absence of an effective strategy should Iran choose the course that many government and outside analysts consider likely: Iran could assemble all the major parts it needs for a nuclear weapon – fuel, designs and detonators – but just stop short of assembling a fully operational weapon." Gates also calls for "new thinking about how the United States might contain Iran's power if it decided to produce a weapon, and how to deal with the possibility that fuel or weapons could be obtained by one of the terrorist groups Iran supports."
In the light of the memo, administration officials began issuing ambiguous statements in firm tones.
Friday, April 16, Jones insisted: "the fact that we don't announce publicly our entire strategy… doesn't mean we don't have a strategy… we do." Another administration official said last week that the US would ensure that Iran would not "acquire a nuclear capability. That includes the ability to have a breakout."
Regarding this "breakout," Gates expressed concern in his memo that intelligence agencies might miss signals that Iran was taking the final steps towards producing a weapon. He admitted in an interview that it might not be possible to verify that Iran had gone past the threshold to actually assembly a weapon.
Some sources are quoted by the NYT as calling the US defense secretary's memo a wakeup call.
Now that Israel's reliance on Washington has proved badly misplaced, debkafile urges its leaders to treat the memo in the same light and finally get their act together.