Panetta and Barak in Ashkelon - Reuters - August 1, 2012
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Defense Minister Ehud Barak hold a joint news conference at an Iron Dome battery site in Ashkelon August 1, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed on Thursday Haaretz's report that President Barack Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel's view that Iran has made significant progress toward military nuclear capability, and said that the report has raised the urgency of the issue.

Speaking on Israel Radio on Thursday morning, Barak said that there is a U.S. intelligence report "being passed around senior offices," and that, as far as Israel knows, this report has brought the U.S. position over Iran closer to the Israeli position, and made the issue more urgent.

For months there has been a basic agreement (between the U.S. and Israel) over what the Iranians are planning to do, and a deep understanding of what is stopping them, the defense minister said in the interview.

Barak also said that Israel will have to make a decision over Iran's nuclear program. "All the options are still on the table, and when we say this, we mean it," he said.

"There is still no decision, we understand the gravity of the situation, we understand that we do not have all the time in the world to decide. We are facing tough decisions…we will listen to all assessments and comments, and when we have to make decisions, we will make them, and the decision will of course come from the government," he said.

Haaretz reported on Thursday that the National Intelligence Estimate report on Iran was supposed to have been submitted to Obama a few weeks ago, but it was revised to include new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran's nuclear program. Haaretz has learned that the report's conclusions are quite similar to those drawn by Israel's intelligence community.

The NIE report contends that Iran has made surprising, notable progress in the research and development of key components of its military nuclear program.

The NIE reports are the most important assessments compiled by the U.S. intelligence community and are submitted to the president and other top governmental officials. This NIE report was compiled by an inter-departmental team headed by director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Its contents articulate the views of American intelligence agencies.