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 U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site

By DAVID E. SANGER
WASHINGTON — President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.

White House officials never conclusively determined whether Israel had decided to go ahead with the strike before the United States protested, or whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was trying to goad the White House into more decisive action before Mr. Bush left office. But the Bush administration was particularly alarmed by an Israeli request to fly over Iraq to reach Iran’s major nuclear complex at Natanz, where the country’s only known uranium enrichment plant is located.

The White House denied that request outright, American officials said, and the Israelis backed off their plans, at least temporarily. But the tense exchanges also prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, a major covert program that Mr. Bush is about to hand off to President-elect Barack Obama.

This account of the expanded American covert program and the Bush administration’s efforts to dissuade Israel from an aerial attack on Iran emerged in interviews over the past 15 months with current and former American officials, outside experts, international nuclear inspectors and European and Israeli officials. None would speak on the record because of the great secrecy surrounding the intelligence developed on Iran.

Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials, to avoid harming continuing operations.

The interviews also suggest that while Mr. Bush was extensively briefed on options for an overt American attack on Iran’s facilities, he never instructed the Pentagon to move beyond contingency planning, even during the final year of his presidency, contrary to what some critics have suggested.

The interviews also indicate that Mr. Bush was convinced by top administration officials, led by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, that any overt attack on Iran would probably prove ineffective, lead to the expulsion of international inspectors and drive Iran’s nuclear effort further out of view. Mr. Bush and his aides also discussed the possibility that an airstrike could ignite a broad Middle East war in which America’s 140,000 troops in Iraq would inevitably become involved.

Instead, Mr. Bush embraced more intensive covert operations actions aimed at Iran, the interviews show, having concluded that the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies were failing to slow the uranium enrichment efforts. Those covert operations, and the question of whether Israel will settle for something less than a conventional attack on Iran, pose immediate and wrenching decisions for Mr. Obama.

The covert American program, started in early 2008, includes renewed American efforts to penetrate Iran’s nuclear supply chain abroad, along with new efforts, some of them experimental, to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks on which Iran relies. It is aimed at delaying the day that Iran can produce the weapons-grade fuel and designs it needs to produce a workable nuclear weapon.

Knowledge of the program has been closely held, yet inside the Bush administration some officials are skeptical about its chances of success, arguing that past efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear program have been detected by the Iranians and have only delayed, not derailed, their drive to unlock the secrets of uranium enrichment.

Late last year, international inspectors estimated that Iran had 3,800 centrifuges spinning, but American intelligence officials now estimate that the figure is 4,000 to 5,000, enough to produce about one weapon’s worth of uranium every eight months or so.

While declining to be specific, one American official dismissed the latest covert operations against Iran as “science experiments.” One senior intelligence official argued that as Mr. Bush prepared to leave office, the Iranians were already so close to achieving a weapons capacity that they were unlikely to be stopped.

Others disagreed, making the point that the Israelis would not have been dissuaded from conducting an attack if they believed that the American effort was unlikely to prove effective.

Since his election on Nov. 4, Mr. Obama has been extensively briefed on the American actions in Iran, though his transition aides have refused to comment on the issue.

Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama must decide whether the covert actions begun by Mr. Bush are worth the risks of disrupting what he has pledged will be a more active diplomatic effort to engage with Iran.

Either course could carry risks for Mr. Obama. An inherited intelligence or military mission that went wrong could backfire, as happened to President Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba. But a decision to pull back on operations aimed at Iran could leave Mr. Obama vulnerable to charges that he is allowing Iran to speed ahead toward a nuclear capacity, one that could change the contours of power in the Middle East.

An Intelligence Conflict

Israel’s effort to obtain the weapons, refueling capacity and permission to fly over Iraq for an attack on Iran grew out of its disbelief and anger at an American intelligence assessment completed in late 2007 that concluded that Iran had effectively suspended its development of nuclear weapons four years earlier.

That conclusion also stunned Mr. Bush’s national security team — and Mr. Bush himself, who was deeply suspicious of the conclusion, according to officials who discussed it with him.

The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate, was based on a trove of Iranian reports obtained by penetrating Iran’s computer networks.

Those reports indicated that Iranian engineers had been ordered to halt development of a nuclear warhead in 2003, even while they continued to speed ahead in enriching uranium, the most difficult obstacle to building a weapon.

The “key judgments” of the National Intelligence Estimate, which were publicly released, emphasized the suspension of the weapons work.

The public version made only glancing reference to evidence described at great length in the 140-page classified version of the assessment: the suspicion that Iran had 10 or 15 other nuclear-related facilities, never opened to international inspectors, where enrichment activity, weapons work or the manufacturing of centrifuges might be taking place.

The Israelis responded angrily and rebutted the American report, providing American intelligence officials and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with evidence that they said indicated that the Iranians were still working on a weapon.

While the Americans were not convinced that the Iranian weapons development was continuing, the Israelis were not the only ones highly critical of the United States report. Secretary Gates, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said the report had presented the evidence poorly, underemphasizing the importance of Iran’s enrichment activity and overemphasizing the suspension of a weapons-design effort that could easily be turned back on.

In an interview, Mr. Gates said that in his whole career he had never seen “an N.I.E. that had such an impact on U.S. diplomacy,” because “people figured, well, the military option is now off the table.”

Prime Minister Olmert came to the same conclusion. He had previously expected, according to several Americans and Israeli officials, that Mr. Bush would deal with Iran’s nuclear program before he left office. “Now,” said one American official who bore the brunt of Israel’s reaction, “they didn’t believe he would.”

Attack Planning

Early in 2008, the Israeli government signaled that it might be preparing to take matters into its own hands. In a series of meetings, Israeli officials asked Washington for a new generation of powerful bunker-busters, far more capable of blowing up a deep underground plant than anything in Israel’s arsenal of conventional weapons. They asked for refueling equipment that would allow their aircraft to reach Iran and return to Israel. And they asked for the right to fly over Iraq.

Mr. Bush deflected the first two requests, pushing the issue off, but “we said ‘hell no’ to the overflights,” one of his top aides said. At the White House and the Pentagon, there was widespread concern that a political uproar in Iraq about the use of its American-controlled airspace could result in the expulsion of American forces from the country.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Sallai Meridor, declined several requests over the past four weeks to be interviewed about Israel’s efforts to obtain the weapons from Washington, saying through aides that he was too busy.

Last June, the Israelis conducted an exercise over the Mediterranean Sea that appeared to be a dry run for an attack on the enrichment plant at Natanz. When the exercise was analyzed at the Pentagon, officials concluded that the distances flown almost exactly equaled the distance between Israel and the Iranian nuclear site.

“This really spooked a lot of people,” one White House official said. White House officials discussed the possibility that the Israelis would fly over Iraq without American permission. In that case, would the American military be ordered to shoot them down? If the United States did not interfere to stop an Israeli attack, would the Bush administration be accused of being complicit in it?

Admiral Mullen, traveling to Israel in early July on a previously scheduled trip, questioned Israeli officials about their intentions. His Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, argued that an aerial attack could set Iran’s program back by two or three years, according to officials familiar with the exchange. The American estimates at the time were far more conservative.

Yet by the time Admiral Mullen made his visit, Israeli officials appear to have concluded that without American help, they were not yet capable of hitting the site effectively enough to strike a decisive blow against the Iranian program.

The United States did give Israel one item on its shopping list: high-powered radar, called the X-Band, to detect any Iranian missile launchings. It was the only element in the Israeli request that could be used solely for defense, not offense.

Mr. Gates’s spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said last week that Mr. Gates — whom Mr. Obama is retaining as defense secretary — believed that “a potential strike on the Iranian facilities is not something that we or anyone else should be pursuing at this time.”

A New Covert Push

Throughout 2008, the Bush administration insisted that it had a plan to deal with the Iranians: applying overwhelming financial pressure that would persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, as foreign enterprises like the French company Total pulled out of Iranian oil projects, European banks cut financing, and trade credits were squeezed.

But the Iranians were making uranium faster than the sanctions were making progress. As Mr. Bush realized that the sanctions he had pressed for were inadequate and his military options untenable, he turned to the C.I.A. His hope, several people involved in the program said, was to create some leverage against the Iranians, by setting back their nuclear program while sanctions continued and, more recently, oil prices dropped precipitously.

There were two specific objectives: to slow progress at Natanz and other known and suspected nuclear facilities, and keep the pressure on a little-known Iranian professor named Mohsen Fakrizadeh, a scientist described in classified portions of American intelligence reports as deeply involved in an effort to design a nuclear warhead for Iran.

Past American-led efforts aimed at Natanz had yielded little result. Several years ago, foreign intelligence services tinkered with individual power units that Iran bought in Turkey to drive its centrifuges, the floor-to-ceiling silvery tubes that spin at the speed of sound, enriching uranium for use in power stations or, with additional enrichment, nuclear weapons.

A number of centrifuges blew up, prompting public declarations of sabotage by Iranian officials. An engineer in Switzerland, who worked with the Pakistani nuclear black-marketeer Abdul Qadeer Khan, had been “turned” by American intelligence officials and helped them slip faulty technology into parts bought by the Iranians.

What Mr. Bush authorized, and informed a narrow group of Congressional leaders about, was a far broader effort, aimed at the entire industrial infrastructure that supports the Iranian nuclear program. Some of the efforts focused on ways to destabilize the centrifuges. The details are closely held, for obvious reasons, by American officials. One official, however, said, “It was not until the last year that they got really imaginative about what one could do to screw up the system.”

Then, he cautioned, “none of these are game-changers,” meaning that the efforts would not necessarily cripple the Iranian program. Others in the administration strongly disagree.

In the end, success or failure may come down to how much pressure can be brought to bear on Mr. Fakrizadeh, whom the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate identifies, in its classified sections, as the manager of Project 110 and Project 111. According to a presentation by the chief inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency, those were the names for two Iranian efforts that appeared to be dedicated to designing a warhead and making it work with an Iranian missile. Iranian officials say the projects are a fiction, made up by the United States.

While the international agency readily concedes that the evidence about the two projects remains murky, one of the documents it briefly displayed at a meeting of the agency’s member countries in Vienna last year, from Mr. Fakrizadeh’s projects, showed the chronology of a missile launching, ending with a warhead exploding about 650 yards above ground — approximately the altitude from which the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was detonated.

The exact status of Mr. Fakrizadeh’s projects today is unclear. While the National Intelligence Estimate reported that activity on Projects 110 and 111 had been halted, the fear among intelligence agencies is that if the weapons design projects are turned back on, will they know?

David E. Sanger is the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times

 2009/1/11 8:43
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site

Brother, If I might apply some of the same-styled prologue that you have elsewhere and note my intentions up front ... An honest and sincere question, why bring this up? And can I tell you what strikes me very sideways about the article in itself?

It is a bit of a quandary as I am very tempted to just take it down with what I am about to say ...

I want to ask, who are these people? Not only the writer of the article but these, as they are so often refereed to as "unnamed sources" or as it is put here:

Quote:
Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials, to avoid harming continuing operations.



I am quite ready to lump them altogether and wonder aloud, "Benedict Arnold"? Where did we ever get this idea that a 'right to know' needs be that which undermines our own efforts? It seems completely counterproductive, does anyone seriously believe that the opposition doesn't scour every know source of information that is out there for their own intelligence uses and needs?

Are we as a people so bent on controversy, conspiracy, even wiling to reveal our own secrets to the masses at the expense of security and operations to undermine the very efforts? What does this provide anyone except some form of entertainment- True, false, conspiracy or indifferent?

I don't want to know this stuff and I do not think anyone else frankly has any business knowing it either, especially the opposition! It seems like America has tuned in on itself and wants to do it's own destruction from the way some talk and where something like these exposes' warrant. I don't think one needs to necessarily have to be a Patriot nor affiliated with any particular party to not wonder just what in the world is going on. It's like voyeurism ran amok, sensationalism and news 'reporting' at any expense just to titillate and thrill those who cannot get enough of this form of what has become sheer 'entertainment', but without the slightest care of at what expense.

It may well prove out true that the terrorists and others that wish to see the fall of this country will only need to do nothing but stand by and watch as we do it for them. It's that "we have found the enemy and he is us" mentality and I am very much appalled at what our 'media' has done and is doing, no matter what ascriptions they lean towards.

Journalistic integrity, morals and courage, character - The long and new feuding over what constitutes America as a "Christian Nation" they can and likely will now continue to argue and war over for who knows how long to come. But there are some principles that just cannot be erased with all this revisionist history try as they might. We are seeing it and living it right now, it is all before our very eyes. The whole fabric is being torn to shreds, it is far more than the removal of these things from the public sphere - God and prayer ... Oh, I can sense the whole thing brewing up again if I don't stop short here.

I must get permission to post this incredible little booklet that I received recently entitled "Why History Matters - [i]And Why Christian History Matters In Particular[/i]" - It came recently in conjunction with a series of very good books put together collectively under the name of "The Christian History Project". The project itself got thwarted after the first 6 volumes but is retracing and starting up again ... just explanatory of where it came from. But it is such an honest and fair, balanced approach - sincere and without political slants.

Ah, just picked it up to get the tittling correct and noticed inside the cover that it may be reproduced without permission. What an overlooking! It will be painstaking and a slow process but it is so vitally important in my estimation that I must go ahead with this for anyone and everyones benefit. His premise is largely underscored at the educational level and puts a great deal of onus on a certain, overlooked (now) individual by the name of Dewey, where we got the "Dewey Decimal System" from. I had no idea just how influential he was at the time and just where all this fits so precisely into this very unraveling that we are seeing right now.

[i]"When men stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing. They believe in anything."[/i] ~ G.K. Chesterton (From the booklet).

Brother, again my reiteration at the start. Not personal on any level - Does any of this ring true?


_________________
Mike Balog

 2009/1/11 10:45Profile









 Brother Mike

Quote:
Brother, again my reiteration at the start. Not personal on any level - Does any of this ring true?



thats why I posted it.

There's something "off" about the whole story, and imho, that is just the prayer point of it all.

which is: "Your Will Lord, not mine".

we have no idea what is to happen, but it seems to me, and I might be wrong, that the "god of this age" is quickening events. Much as Jesus' earthly ministry began in the "Fullness of Time", ie pax romana, a good road system, and a common language, greek, so I get briefs whiffs of the "End of Times", emnity between "Isaac and Ishmael", petroleum so coveted, nuclear technolgy sought after with the fervency of a man seeking a "new god", and all of it globally powered and wired over the most fragile of systems, electricity powering the internet, where info and money zip across the globe at lightening speeds, and in huge amounts. The electrical and cyber are more fragile than anybody can really concieve, imo...so, the prayer point is,

Your Will Lord.

blessings, neil

ps, the story could be a disinfo plant, or not. I dont know.

 2009/1/11 11:14
White_Stone
Member



Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 1196
North Central Florida

 Re:

Quote:
[b][size=small][color=0000FF][font=Verdana]morals and courage, character [/font][/color][/size][/b]



I see both posts in this thread and feel sad for my Country (or, what is left of my Country).

The above character qualities are not just diminished but completely lacking in most of the elected officials.

How much longer can this continue? The people seem blind to the cause of the increase in violence in society. It would seem, for pure self preservation they would see a need for a return to the values of the Founding Fathers.

All things are working according to God's plan, we have only to follow Him.

I anxiously await the posting of the booklet. Just think, how nice it could be to have a 'speech to text' program to use in preparing it. :-) You would just need to read it out loud and have the text typed automatically.

Kind regards,
white stone

P.S. Brother Neil, I am praying for Israel and for you and your family.


_________________
Janice

 2009/1/11 11:17Profile
crsschk
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Why History Matters

Quote:
ps, the story could be a disinfo plant, or not. I dont know.



You know, I has the same exact wonder brother, just forgot to include it ...

"Interesting times" isn't it?

To take this off to the side a second ... That is derived from what I believe is an old Chinese(?) proverb ; "[i]May you live in interesting times[/i]" And is meant as a derogatory 'wish' upon an opponent. Not my intention here! Just a little tidbit ..

Quote:
I anxiously await the posting of the booklet. Just think, how nice it could be to have a 'speech to text' program to use in preparing it. You would just need to read it out loud and have the text typed automatically.



I think there is actually something like this available, would be so much easier. Nevertheless it will be good for my typing skills and also for my patience level proclivities, that can always be practiced and put to the test :)

But glad to know I will at least have an audience of one ... ;-)

Over the years having subscribed to various things, ministries and the like - Newsletters and email updates, all that sort of thing. You get various pleas from many different ministries and I often chuckle a bit at some of the more formulaic approaches; "We couldn't have done it without your prayers and your giving!" or "Thank you so much for your contributions to this ministry, the Lord knows ... etc. etc." All sorts of variations on the same theme, and while I can understand it, some of it, to a point-usually I react with a 'that is all good and well, but I haven't prayed nor given anything to you!' It's just a little presumptuous ... anyway, not to go off on a tangent but what struck me as part of all of this was an accompanying letter that just explained their situation and just gave some more impetuous to where the heart is, an honest piece of info that I do not think was intended to be anything other than explanatory of their present situation. It is just a bit too honest if I may put it that way. I have the 6 volumes as I think I mentioned and to be truthful, haven't read through them all. They are well done and from a variety of contributors. "Volume" is a bit misleading if that conjures up images of large 800 page tomes. They have pictures and the like and are just presented without ... any, if I recall theological jargon to bog them down. The project got delayed and that is just explanatory to what I wanted to share, of the other mentions;

"It is a sad fact that Volume 7 is coming out more than a year later than we had originally planned. There are several reasons for this, but chief among them is the double tragedy we suffered as the work got under way. Our daughter Philippa, who was running the whole administration side, contracted an incurable lung cancer. Then, while under pain-killing drugs and lighting one of the two daily cigarettes she still allowed herself, her oxygen line exploded in her face. The resulting fire took down the house, which was serving as an office for the Project. Philippa died in hospital five days later."

[[i]Edit: RE:[/i]

Quote:
I must get permission to post this incredible little booklet that I received recently entitled "Why History Matters - And Why Christian History Matters In Particular" - It came recently in conjunction with a series of very good books put together collectively under the name of "The Christian History Project". The project itself got thwarted after the first 6 volumes but is retracing and starting up again ... just explanatory of where it came from. But it is such an honest and fair, balanced approach - sincere and without political slants.

Ah, just picked it up to get the tittling correct and noticed inside the cover that it may be reproduced without permission. What an overlooking! It will be painstaking and a slow process but it is so vitally important in my estimation that I must go ahead with this for anyone and everyones benefit. His premise is largely underscored at the educational level and puts a great deal of onus on a certain, overlooked (now) individual by the name of Dewey, where we got the "Dewey Decimal System" from. I had no idea just how influential he was at the time and just where all this fits so precisely into this very unraveling that we are seeing right now.



[i]Had checked a number of weeks back but was pleasantly surprised to find the whole booklet is available now online. So the efforts have been reduced to some editing and can now be found in the articles section (under Ted Byfield) as well as a new posting by the same title. Skip ahead directly to their site and the booklet[/i] [url=http://www.thechristians.ca/why_history_matters.html]Here[/url]


_________________
Mike Balog

 2009/1/11 12:11Profile









 Re: U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site

If Israel ever raided Iran, Iran would strike back with such great force that would make the common Israeli's head spin. Israel will lose in the long run, it thinks it's winning, but the world is going to get fed up with it and they are going to be alone. Even God will not save them, unless they turn with all their heart and claim Jesus Christ as their LORD and saviour.

 2009/1/11 12:34
White_Stone
Member



Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 1196
North Central Florida

 Re:

Hello DeepThinker,

Following your 'tagline' and asking:

Quote:
Even God will not save them



Do you have Scripture to back up this statement? Perhaps you do not realize your statement comes across a statement of fact. How do you know Israel would lose against Iran, anyway? All this is conjecture and our time should be better spent in prayer and reading the Holy Word.

Kind regards,
white stone


_________________
Janice

 2009/1/11 12:58Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
Member



Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4529


 Re:

Hi DeepThinker...

Quote:
If Israel ever raided Iran, Iran would strike back with such great force that would make the common Israeli's head spin. Israel will lose in the long run, it thinks it's winning, but the world is going to get fed up with it and they are going to be alone. Even God will not save them, unless they turn with all their heart and claim Jesus Christ as their LORD and saviour.

...and you are basing this on what? Scripture? Interpretation? Inside information?

From what I understand from the Scriptures, Israel (the sovereign political nation) is alive and well during the end times (even while the Antichrist rules within a confederation of 10 governments, as described in Revelation chapter 13)).

A point, however, should be taken when we realize that most of our eschatological beliefs are based upon our flawed and limited human perspectives. We should avoid speaking with absolutes about issues that aren't absolutely clear from the Scriptures. There is so much private interpretation in issues of doctrine and politics! Many believers are willing to point the finger at (and question the spiritual discernment of) anyone who disagrees with them regarding doctrine.

I think that, at least in regard to this current issue, we can all "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6).

:-)


_________________
Christopher

 2009/1/11 17:17Profile





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