Sheera Frenkel writing for McClatchy reports that Netanyahu’s 2013 “red line” has been pushed back by Israeli intelligence:
Intelligence briefings given to McClatchy over the last two months have 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.
“Previous assessments were built on a set of data that has since shifted,” said one Israeli intelligence officer, who spoke to McClatchy only on the condition that he not be identified. He said that in addition to a series of “mishaps” that interrupted work at Iran’s nuclear facilities, Iranian officials appeared to have slowed the program on their own.
“We can’t attribute the delays in Iran’s nuclear program to accidents and sabotage alone,” he said. “There has not been the run towards a nuclear bomb that some people feared. There is a deliberate slowing on their end.“
A word of caution: Frenkel is the same freelancer who wrote in the London Times over the weekend that Israeli intelligence officials had confirmed to her that they believed there had been an explosion at Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant – a story that is most likely bogus – but she also broke the story in the Times of Israel using white phosphorous over Gaza in 2008. She seems to be a decent journalist, having also written for the CS Monitor and Jerusalem Post, but her Israeli intel sources may be suspect.
In this case, I find the story credible simply because I’ve been watching reports about Iran’s nuclear program carefully since 2004. Back then, we were being told by hawks that Iran could conceivably produce a a bomb within a year or two and it has kept consistently not happening and then the assessment being pushed back a little ever since. In fact, back in 1992, Israeli member of parliament Binyamin Netanyahu predicted that Iran was “3 to 5 years” from having a nuclear weapon and the breathless warnings go back even further to 1979 – before the Iranian revolution.
Frenkel reports once Israeli intelligence source as saying “There is a question we have to ask ourselves, of ‘Did we cry wolf too early?”