Thursday, June 5, 2008

Olmert: We're Close to Stopping Iran's Nuclear Program


"05/06/2008 Once again the so-called “Iranian threat” on Israel was the main plate on the US-Israeli table.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is currently on a four-day visit to Washington to raise several issues, on top of which is the “Iranian threat”. After his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on Wednesday, Olmert said that the end of Iran's nuclear program was approaching. "With every day that passes, we are getting closer to stopping Iran's nuclear program," he said, adding that substantial steps were being taken to handle the Iranian threat in "a more effective manner."

Olmert added that, as a result of the hour-long meeting with Bush, there were fewer question marks between the two allies concerning the means, the time constraints, and the level of American determination in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.

"I do not think it is appropriate for Iran to know what we are doing," Olmert said.

Bush told Olmert that Iran was an "existential threat to peace" and said the world must take that threat seriously. The Washington talks came a day after Olmert issued his toughest warning yet to Tehran, saying Iran's nuclear program must be stopped by "all possible means."

Amidst such reports, the US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell paid a rare visit to Israel Tuesday for talks on possible strikes against Iran with heads of the Israeli intelligence community. McConnell was scheduled to meet with head of Israeli Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

McConnell's office published the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report late last year, which said that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003 even though it had renewed its enrichment of uranium in 2005.

The publication of the report raised Israeli ire and delegations from the Mossad and Military Intelligence traveled several times to the US in recent months to present the Americans with Israel's estimates concerning Iran's race towards nuclear power.

Defense officials said that McConnell's visit to Israel was part of the ongoing intelligence dialogue between the two governments and that he would be presented with the most updated Mossad and MI assessments regarding Iran's nuclear program. MI recently moved up its assessment and now believes that Iran will master centrifuge technology by the end of the year, meaning that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade.

Earlier reports said that Bush intends to attack Iran in the upcoming months, before the end of his term. An official was quoted as saying that a senior member of the president's entourage said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for...... "

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