The first batch of WikiLeaks 250,000 diplomatic files released Sunday, Nov. 28, covered five years of private conversations and briefings from 2005 between US embassy diplomats and Israeli security chiefs on Iran and the timeline for a prospective strike against its nuclear program. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is quoted as estimating in 2009 that 18 months remained as a "window of opportunity" for destroying Iran's nuclear sites. After the end of 2010, he warned, an attack would cause inestimable damage. "The fate of the world rests on stopping Iran," he said.
A US embassy cable to Washington is revealed as citing 2010 as the critical year for dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.
"Barak asked rhetorically how a lack of firm response to North Korea would be interpreted by Iran's leadership, speculating the US government would be viewed as a 'paper tiger'," the diplomatic cable reads.
Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on September 11, 2001," Military Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said to Congressmen in May, 2009.
The files cover talks between US and Israeli experts on bunker busters for use against Iran's underground sites. Washington wanted these talks kept secret so as not to betray US involvement in a possible Israeli air strike. But in the opinion of US Secretary of State Gates, an attack would delay Iran's development of a nuclear weapon by no more than three months.
The US embassy reported to the State Department that Mossad Director Meir Dagan was the most pessimistic of the Israeli officials they consulted about Iran, but the most optimistic about the benefits of sanctions. He proposed a five-stage plan of action ranging from sanctions and covert operations to the regime's overthrow, which he believed feasible.
As ambassador, Dan Kurtzer told Washington that Israeli evaluations need to be tempered.
According to another disclosure, Russia was prepared to withhold the S-300 air defense missile from Iran in return for the supply of $1 billion worth of UAVs.
WikiLeaks will continue to release files in the course of this week.