JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Mossad chief Tamir Pardo was in Washington for secret talks with senior US officials, until the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence let it slip that he was there—and did so on a live telecast of the committee session.
During the meeting, committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper whether Israel intends to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Clapper responded that he would rather answer the question behind closed doors.
Feinstein then said she had met with Mossad director Pardo in Washington earlier in the week. CIA Director David Petraeus quickly added that he, too, had met with Pardo. Thus was the secret of Pardo’s mission broadcast live on national television.
Petraeus noted Israel’s fears over Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, which he categorized as an existential threat.
Clapper told the committee that “Iran’s technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so.
“These advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses,” Clapper added. He noted that the US assessment is that “Iran would likely choose missile delivery as its preferred method of delivering a nuclear weapon.”
Clapper also noted that the Iranians “are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived US actions that threaten the regime.”
This new threat is not confined to the United States, Clapper added. “We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against US or allied interests overseas. Iran’s willingness to sponsor future attacks in the United States or against our interests abroad probably will be shaped by Tehran’s evaluation of the costs it bears for the plot against the ambassador as well as Iranian leaders’ perceptions of US threats against the regime,” he said.