Iran has consistently fooled international nuclear monitors
May 19/09. DEBKAfile's Washington sources report
that the gap between US president Barack Obama and Israel prime minister
Binyamin Netanyahu on Iran was wider even than on the Palestinian issue.
Overshadowing their outwardly easy conversation was the US president's growing
inclination to meet Iran halfway on uranium enrichment and call off UN and
American sanctions if Tehran allows international monitoring of the process.
Our intelligence sources report that Obama is seriously considering taking up
the Anglo-German proposal for an international monitoring mechanism strict
enough to preclude Iran's attainment of weapons-grade enriched uranium.
The president was convinced by American intelligence and nuclear experts that
this can be done.
He also believes that nothing will persuade Tehran to cede its right to
enrichment activity on its soil.
Israeli intelligence and military experts take the opposite view. They believe
the Anglo-German plan gives Iran the perfect cover for concealing its race for a
nuclear bomb, a misgiving shared by the political and military establishments of
the moderate Arab governments in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
It is their view that if Obama adopts this plan,
Iran can be sure of arriving at a
nuclear weapon capability by the end of 2010.
This dispute did not come up in the Obama-Netanyahu conversation. Both skated
around the Iranian nuclear threat separately without touching on options outside
diplomacy. The US president said he was in the process of
"reaching out" to Iran and
was confident he could persuade
Tehran's rulers that a nuclear weapon was not in their best interest if they
wanted to be fully accepted as part of the international community.
He did not mention uranium enrichment or a military option against Iran. Neither
would he accept a deadline for negotiations with Tehran, except to say that at
the end of the year, "we will see where we stand."
But asked later to comment,
Netanyahu said: "We will defend ourselves."
Seen from outside Washington, by Iran's neighbors, Israeli and Arab alike,
President Obama has made Iran the gift of seven clear months for developing its
nuclear capabilities and enrichment undisturbed.
The only thing left to the Israeli prime minister was to commend "the
president's firm commitment that Iran will not attain a nuclear weapon."