CIA Head: Israel Knows Not to Attack Iran


cia-head-leon-panettaCIA director Leon Panetta today said that Israel knew it needed to coordinate its strategy on Iran with other nations and was aware of the fact that launching an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would mean “big trouble.” Acknowledging that he had recently traveled to Israel in order to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and warn him against striking Iran, the CIA chief told Global Viewpoint that he “felt assured” Israel would not break ranks with Washington’s strategy.”Yes,” he said, “the Israelis are obviously concerned about Iran and focused on it. But [Netanyahu] understands that if Israel goes it alone, it will mean big trouble. He knows that for the sake of Israeli security, they have to work together with others.”

Panetta said that the threat posed by Iran “has our full attention,” asserting that despite the Obama administration’s strategic decision to engage Teheran diplomatically, “no one is na├»ve about the challenges.”

Panetta reiterated a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate which assessed that Iran had halted its active nuclear weaponization program in 2003, but warned that, “at a minimum” the Islamic republic was “keeping open the option to develop deliverable nuclear weapons” and “continues to develop uranium enrichment technology and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.”

The CIA head said assessing Iran’s intentions was “a top priority” for the US. He said Iran was “not an easy intelligence target.”

According to Panetta, while the Iranian nuclear program in and of itself was cause for significant concern, there was also a real risk that if Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the region will try to catch up. “The last thing we need in the Middle East is a nuclear arms race,” he said.

Panetta also said the US was trying to assess North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program and its long-range missile capabilities. He expressed great concern for the fact that North Korea was willing to “sell technology and expertise to anyone willing to pay.”

Panetta said the US had good intelligence on both North Korea and Iran, but added that “given Kim Jong-il’s health problems and issues of succession, North Korea remains one of the most difficult and unpredictable threats in that part of the world.”

{Yair Israel/JPost}