Netanyahu 'lost his temper,' reprimanded U.S. envoy over Iran, says congressman
Confirming previously denied reports, U.S. House Intelligence Committee chairman Republican Mike Rogers said Netanyahu believes Iran is four to eight weeks away from first nuclear bomb.
U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers confirmed that during a meeting held in Jerusalem two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly criticized U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro over U.S. President Barack Obama's policy concerning Iran.
Netanyahu's spokesman Liran Dan said in response: "As we said last week, the report is incorrect and we have nothing more to add."
The incident was reported last week in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The report said Shapiro responded to Netanyahu's attacks politely, but decisively. Interviewing to Israel's channel 2 news a few days later, Shapiro denied any confrontation took place.
Speaking to a Michigan radio station, Rogers said Netanyahu was nervous, agitated and frustrated.
According to Rogers, Netanyahu confronted Shapiro after he suddenly lost his temper and began reprimanding Shapiro. The meeting was "very tense," Rogers said, "it was very, very clear the Israelis had lost their patience with the [Obama] Administration… There was no doubt. You could not walk out of that meeting and think that they had not lost their patience with this Administration."
During the interview Rogers repeatedly noted that he felt Netanyahu was very frustrated with the U.S. Administration's policy, saying that its stand in the Iranian issue is not clear enough. "I can say that there were elevated concerns on behalf of the Israelis," Rogers described, adding later that he had never witnessed such a thing before.
"We've had sharp exchanges with other heads of state and in intelligence services," Rogers said, "but nothing at that level that I've seen in all my time, where people were clearly that agitated, clearly that worked up about a particular issue where there was a very sharp exchange."
Describing what he heard in the meeting, Rogers told how he sees Netanyahu's attitude toward the Obama Administration: "the Israeli position is, 'Hey, listen, you've got to tell us - I mean, if you want us to wait' - and that's what this Administration's been saying, you've gotta wait, you've gotta wait, you've gotta wait… 'but then you've gotta tell us [the Israelis] when is the [American] red line, so we can make our own decisions about should we or shouldn't we stop this particular program."
The senior Republican congressman stressed that Netanyahu thinks that from the moment the Iranians decide to do so, it would only take four to eight weeks until they manufacture the first nuclear bomb, adding that Netanyahu does not believe Obama would attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Right now the Israelis don't believe that the Administration is serious when they say that all options are on the table," Rogers said, "and more importantly neither do the Iranians. That's why the program is progressing."
"At this point they're very frustrated because they don't' know what happens after the election, and their window for impacting the program they believe is starting to close."