During the four days between Thursday March 4 and Monday March 7, the Obama administration switched its Iran policy. As rocketing oil prices triggered by the Arab Revolt wiped out the damage caused the Iranian economy by sanctions, Washington confirmed the worst Saudi and Israeli suspicions that America had no intention of acting to stop the Islamic Republic attaining nuclear weapons, although it held Israel back from doing so when it was more feasible.
This discovery has dealt America's allies in Riyadh and Jerusalem their second letdown in three months, on the heels of White House encouragement of the uprisings againsta select number of Arab rulers.
The White House laid the ground for its change of heart on Iran with public statements that drew little attention from international media during the Libyan crisis.
The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented the Senate Armed Services Committee this week with a "revised" version of the controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which claimed orignally against all the evidence that Iran had halted work on nuclear arms in 2003.
It is now confirmed that the misinformation contained in the original NIE was the pretext for holding back – not only an Israeli attack on Iran but also direct American action for keeping nuclear arms out of Iran's hands. By revising that erroneous estimate, the Obama administration shows it is willing to catch up and come to terms with the reality of Iran's wide-open option to develop nuclear weapons.
US official language reflects the administration's policy turnabout on Iran. March 7, Washington announced that the USS Monterey guided missile cruiser, whose Aegis radar can monitor long- and short-range ballistic missiles and transmit the data to interceptor missile ground stations, would be deployed in the Mediterranean. "The US has started implementing its plan to protect Europe from a potential Iranian nuclear threat."
debkafile notes that all past references to the US nuclear shield for Europe referred to Iranian ballistic missiles – never a nuclear threat.
Our military sources note that one of the key ground stations to which the Monterey's radar is linked is the X-band forward radar station located in the Israeli Negev near the Egyptian border, which in turn is connected to Israel Arrow anti-missile missile batteries designed especially to shoot down Iranian ballistic missiles.
The closer the Iranian nuclear menace comes to reality, the further it recedes from Israeli political and media rhetoric. Obama's fundamental policy shift on the subject is bad news for Israel in general and at this time in particular, because his support for the Arab Revolt is seen by Israeli and moderate Arab rulers as further evidence of a White House decision to strengthen Iran, which profits hugely from their losses.
Shortly before the Monterey announcement, the Washington Times reported: An Annual intelligence report to Congress has dropped language stating that Iran's nuclear weapons are a future option. A U.S. official insisted there was no "sleight-of-hand" in the change but could not explain why the recent report was altered from two previous versions.
IAEA Director Yukiya Amano was also quoted as describing new information on the military aspect of Iran's nuclear program in his latest report. An internal report from Feb. 25 stated that recent information disclosed "nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile" as continuing after 2004.
The two omissions in the original 2007 NIE report are that [US intelligence continues] "to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons through we do not know whether Tehran eventually decide to produce nuclear weapons" and: "Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons if a decision is made to do so."
Clearly, Tehran does not have the same trouble putting its plans into words as do those US intelligence report writers. It is bent on developing a nuclear bomb, has completed the projects for its development and reserves the right to set the date for assembling the completed components into a weapon.
Wednesday, March 9, the chief US envoy Glyn Davies reported to the nuclear watchdog's board in Vienna that Iran may be continuing secret work on developing nuclear weapons. In the course of an argument with the Iranian delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Davies warned of "increasingly apparently military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program, including efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear warhead."
"Iran continues to act very much like a state with something to hide," he told the board.
But not any longer, says debkafile.