Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by Nir Keidar
Text size

Leaders of Israel intelligence community are set to give their annual briefing on Tuesday to the security cabinet. They are expected to focus on Iran's nuclear program, the civil war in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in Egypt.

One senior official has said the meeting is expected to last at least eight hours. The ministers' aides and advisors will not be in attendance. Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, director of Military Intelligence, is scheduled to make the first presentation. He will be followed by his counterparts from the Mossad and the Shin Bet intelligence service and by representatives of the Foreign Ministry. A follow-up meeting will probably be held in several weeks' time.

The ministers will be briefed on the progress of Iran's nuclear program in general and its military aspects in particular. They will be presented with intelligence assessments regarding whether or not Tehran has decided to begin enriching uranium to 90 percent, the rate needed for nuclear weapons. MI believes Iranian supreme religious leader, Ali Khamenei, has not made the decision to try to assemble a nuclear warhead.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration is considering making declarations regarding the United States' "red lines," that if crossed could bring about an American attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. In their article senior Times correspondents Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger reported that President Barack Obama is mulling a series of overt and covert actions with the goal of helping Israel to save face and convincing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off on attacking Iranian nuclear facilities.

Over the past several weeks a number of former Israeli security chiefs, including former MI head Amos Yadlin, have called on Obama to publicly announce his commitment to stopping Iran's nuclear program. In an op-ed published in The Washington Post around two weeks ago Yadlin went as far as suggesting that Obama come to Israel to address the Knesset and openly declare that the United States would use military force if necessary in order to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Signals in the Persian Gulf

The United States is engaged in a number of military actions in the Persian Gulf, including the deployment of a powerful radar system in Qatar that is capable of detect the launching of missiles in Iran. The system is identical to ones installed in Israel and Turkey in recent years. They send Iran the message that any rockets they launch are likely to be intercepted.

In addition, the United States is conducting two large-scale military exercises in September and October. One is a missile-defense drill in and with Israel, while the other is to be the largest-ever minesweeping exercise in the Persian Gulf, aimed at signaling Iran that it will not be able to close the Straits of Hormuz.

The Iranian news agency ISNA reported that Iran would hold an aerial military exercise in the October or November, to examine its yet incomplete antiair system. According to the report a senior military official said that Iran has completed 30 percent of the anti-aircraft system it is developing instead of the S-300 system it planned to purchase from Russia, before the latter decided it would not sell the system to Iran, due to the international sanctions.