Iran is not imminent threat, says head of Israeli military intelligence

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From the site Enduring America, a piece by Scott Lucas and Joanna Paraszczuk on an important statement at the Herzliya conference in Israel that is getting ignored/spun in the mainstream press:

On Thursday, the head of Israel’s military intelligence, Major General Amir Kochavi, made an important announcement. He said that, while Iran is developing its nuclear programme in 2013, it “has not yet decided to build a bomb”.

Here’s the catch: those who rely on Western media are unlikely to learn of this.

Instead, they will be treated to this far scarier spin, also taken from Kochavi’s presentation: “Iran and Hezbollah Have Built 50,000-Strong Force to Help Syrian Regime”.

So why did one declaration of Kochavi — which is a misreading of a statement by an Iranian military commander last autumn — make the headlines? Why is another — which is far more significant and points to the debate within Israel over what to do about Tehran — ignored?…

Kochavi’s statement about Iran and the Bomb was not just a throw-away line. It was an important signal. The General was saying that, while the Iranian nuclear programme had to be watched carefully, it is not an imminent threat to Israel — one requiring a military strike on Tehran’s facilities in the near-future.

Kochavi is not the only high-level official putting out that message. On the eve of his trip to Israel, President Barack Obama told the country’s Channel 2 in an interview on Thursday that Iran was at least  a year away from any weapon. Thus, while “all options were on the table” over the nuclear issue, Washington would continue to pursue diplomacy and tough sanctions — and would urge Israel to support that.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not like that message, preferring to hold out the prospect of airstrikes in forthcoming months. It appears, however, that his military and intelligence services — who put out the message earlier this month that it might be 2015 or 2016 before Iran has a nuclear weapons — are on Obama’s side.

While others have been distracted, the Daily Star of Lebanon hears the message:

“Netanyahu has not publicly revised the spring-to-summer 2013 dating for his ‘red line’. But several Israeli officials privately acknowledged it had been deferred, maybe indefinitely.

“That was the Big Story in Major General Amir Kochavi’s statement on Thursday.”

It is not the one many people will get today.

“The red line was never a deadline,” one told Reuters.

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