Netanyahu's brouhaha over Iran hollow: Gary Sick
Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:55AM
Speaking on CBS News last Sunday, hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rehashed the unfounded accusation that Iran pursues non-civilian purposes in its nuclear energy program and said Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani will seek to ‘build a bomb.’”A veteran White House aide says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hue and cry about Iran seeking to build nuclear weapons is empty. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not a subtle man. When he has an objective in mind, he is not above resorting to hyperbole, exaggeration, or apocalyptic scenarios to make his point. He has been crying wolf nearly as long as he has been in politics. For a very good reason: It works. And it works. And it works,” wrote Gary Sick, who served on the US National Security Council under US Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, on the CNN website. “Unlike the boy in the story who lost credibility when he sounded the alarm one time too many, each new iteration by Mr. Netanyahu is greeted with nods of grave concern,” he added. Sick then referred to the “latest edition of this long-running show” by Netanyahu on the CBS News Network last Sunday, when the Israeli prime minister said Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani will seek to “build a bomb.” “More than 20 years ago, Mr. Netanyahu solemnly informed us that, unless someone intervened, Iran would have a nuclear weapon within five years… Almost every year since the early 1990s, senior political figures, intelligence specialists and respected commentators have assured us that Iran would surely have a nuclear weapon in three to five years, sometimes less, unless Iran were forced to stop…,” Sick added. The senior research scholar and adjunct professor of international affairs at Columbia University further said that, “It is not hard to understand the logic of this assertion,” pointing to the Israeli nuclear weapons program, which yielded nuclear bombs “in absolute secrecy in only a few years.” The Israeli nuclear weapons program, Sick said, was followed by “South Africa, India, [and] even poor Pakistan with virtually no heavy industrial base.” However, he noted, Iran, which is “endowed with a robust industrial base, exceptional engineering universities, [and] a well-educated population… has no nuclear weapon.”
“Why?” he asked, responding that just as “all US intelligence services” have confirmed, Iran does not intend to build nuclear weapons.In 2007, a US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) verified Iran was not after nuclear arms. The report, prepared by 16 US intelligence agencies, confirmed with “high confidence” the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. A similar report was also published in 2011. “Mr. Netanyahu did not mention that in his TV appearance,” Sick said, adding, “Instead, he was digging up his talking points from another crisis point in the past.” He once again reminded the readers of Netanyahu’s calls over Iran as well as a “testimony” by the hawkish premier in front of the House Government Reform Committee, around 10 years ago, over Iraq in which he persistently claimed, “every indication we have is that (Saddam Hussein) is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.” In 2003, then US President George W. Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq under the same allegation, but to the embarrassment of the US and the other proponents of the war on Iraq, no WMDs were ever found in the Middle Eastern country.
“Mr. Netanyahu badly needs a new set of talking points,” Sick noted.The former White House aide then pointed to the election of Rohani and his upcoming inauguration, and said, “We have a choice between the frayed talking points of the past,… or toward a newly energized diplomatic initiative that offers” a way out of the Western impasse over Iran's nuclear energy program. Rohani won Iran’s June 14 presidential election with 18,613,329 votes, or 50.7 percent of a total of 36,704,156 ballots counted. The Iranian president-elect has pledged to seek “constructive interaction” with the world through a policy of moderation. ASH/NN/HJL