Later that same year, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, “argued that it would take Iran one year to obtain a nuclear weapon and two and a half years to build an arsenal of three weapons. By 2012 Iran would be able to build one weapon within weeks and an arsenal within six months.” A month later, Netanyahu said, “Iran has the capability now to make one bomb or they could wait and make several bombs in a year or two.”
By 2010, some Israeli officials said Iran was only a year away from a bomb, some said it “one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability,” and others said it still had seven years to go. An unnamed “Israeli policy maker”revealed to Jeffrey Goldberg that Iran would have a nuclear weapon “nine months from June – in other words, March of 2011.” In early 2011, the prediction jumped to 2015.
Nevertheless, a year later, the Times of London claimed an Israeli security report assessed Iran may become a nuclear power “within a year,” a conclusion subsequently confirmed by Ehud Barak. Six months later, in mid-2012, Barak suggested that Iran would take “several years” for Iran to “turn nuclear.” Shortly thereafter, Netanyahu reportedly put the “red line” of Iranian nuclear capability at just “a few months away,” later telling the United Nations in September (along with his trusty cartoon bomb drawing) that Iran would have “enough enriched uranium for the first bomb” by mid-to-late 2013. By October, Ehud Barak added an extra “eight to 10 months” to the timeline.
Accompanying all of these predictions, of course, have been fever-pitched threats of an ever-imminent Israeli military strike on Iran and its nuclear infrastructure. In 2012, the predictions of such an illegal assault were especially incessant. Not a month went by without hysterical rumors of a new Middle East war in the offing.
This past January, a new prediction emerged. McClatchy Newspapers reported that “Israeli intelligence officials now estimate that Iran won’t be able to build a nuclear weapon before 2015 or 2016, pushing back by several years previous assessments of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” The report is based on “[i]ntelligence briefings given to McClatchy over the last two months” which “confirmed that various officials across Israel’s military and political echelons now think it’s unrealistic that Iran could develop a nuclear weapons arsenal before 2015. Others pushed the date back even further, to the winter of 2016.”
In early March 2013, Netanyahu claimed that “Iran is getting closer” to his self-determined “red line” of nuclear weapons capability and is “putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so.” Later that same month, in a joint press conference in Jerusalem with President Obama, Netanyahu warned of “Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons” before reiterating his position that “in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action.” Soon thereafter, the Israeli press publicized claims by anonymous Israeli officials that “Iran could have the capability to build a nuclear bomb by July.”
Well, it’s July, so Netanyahu tells us Iran is getting “closer and closer.”
Sadly, Netanayhu’s tired propaganda never seems to elicit the glazed-over, yawning-inducing dismissal from the U.S. press that it so sorely deserves; rather, he gets to schedule high-profile interviews on major networks whenever he wants to reissue his warmongering bromides.
A diplomatic cable sent from sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in 2005, published by Wikileaks, noted that, despite Israeli warnings that Iran would reach a critical nuclear weapons capability within six months, some Israeli “officials admitted informally that these estimates need to be taken with caution. The head of the MFA’s [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] strategic affairs division recalled that GOI assessments from 1993 predicted that Iran would possess an atomic bomb by 1998 at the latest.”
Another cable from 2009 wondered whether “the Israelis firmly believe” their hysterical predictions about Iran’s nuclear progress “or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States).”
In truth, Netanyahu himself is increasingly viewed as an Israeli Chicken Little. In early 2013, McClatchy Newspapers reported that Israeli officials “have said there’s a widening gulf between Netanyahu’s remarks and the intelligence reports he receives,” and quoted one unnamed “intelligence officer” as wondering, “Did we cry wolf too early?”
While the alarmism will surely continue unabated, the answer is obvious.