Israel’s intelligence services agree with American intelligence assessments that there is not enough proof to determine whether Iran is building a nuclear bomb, according to a report published Sunday in the New York Times.
The newspaper said that senior American officials believe there is little disagreement between the Mossad and U.S. intelligence agencies over Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that Israeli political leaders have been pushing for quick action to block Iran from becoming what they describe as an existential threat.
The report further quoted one former senior American intelligence official who states that the Mossad “does not disagree with the U.S. on the weapons program,” adding that there is “not a lot of dispute between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts.”
According to the New York Times, the extent of the evidence the spy agencies have collected is unclear since most of their findings are classified. However, intelligence officials say they have been throwing everything they have at the Iranian program.
The United States and Israel share intelligence on Iran, American officials said. For its spying efforts, Israel relies in part on an Iranian exile group that is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or M.E.K., which is based in Iraq, says the report.
Furthermore, the report states that the Israelis have also developed close ties in the region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, and they are believed to use Kurdish agents who can move back and forth across the border into Iran.
According to the New York Times, American intelligence officials are wary of relying on information from an opposition group like the M.E.K., especially after their experience in Iraq where they relied on flawed information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group run by Ahmad Chalabi.
The report comes days after top Israeli official congratulated a decision by the world’s largest financial money transfer network to cut off Iranian banks targeted by EU sanctions from the system, saying that the move represented a “mortal blow” to the Iranian regime.
The move was an unprecedented measure that will effectively prevent Iranian institutions from electronically transferring global funds.
An Israeli official indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of disconnecting the Iranian banks from the SWIFT system during his recent conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama as well as with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
According to the official, Netanyahu told Obama that “we need SWIFT swiftly.”
In response to SWIFT’s Thursday announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement later in the day, saying that “Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated SWIFT for its decision to cut the Iranian banks from the system.”
The New York Times report also comes on the heels of an interview between U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and NBC’s Brian Williams, in which Cameron reiterated his opposition to an Israeli strike, saying that he didn’t “think as we stand today that military action by Israel would be justified.”
I don’t think the Israelis should take that action now. We told them they shouldn’t and said we wouldn’t support it if they did. We’ve been very clear,” Cameron said.
“It’s very, very important [Israel] knows it has strong allies like America, like the United Kingdom, but I don’t support action now because, frankly, we’ve got more road to run in putting in place sanctions and putting in place tough measures against the regime and saying to them they need to take a different path,” Cameron added.
Cameron added that Iran could retain “civil nuclear power, if they give up the ambition of having military nuclear power, they can have a future as a country that has more normal relations with the rest of the world,” adding: “We need to keep up the pressure to encourage them to make the right choice.”