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  • Israel ruled out military option against Iran as early as 2005
Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran AP August 21, 2010
A reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on August 21, 2010. Photo by AP
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Senior defense officials ruled out an Israeli military attack on Iran's nuclear sites as early as five and a half years ago, telegrams sent from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv in 2005 and 2006 indicate. The cables, which were revealed over the weekend, are among hundreds of thousands shared exclusively with Haaretz by the WikiLeaks website.

In the first telegram, sent on December 2, 2005, American diplomats said their conversations with Israeli officials indicate that there is no chance of a military attack being carried out on Iran. A more detailed telegram was sent in January 2006, summing up a meeting between U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman (a Democrat for New York ) and Dr. Ariel Levite, then deputy chief of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission.

"Levite said that most Israeli officials do not believe a military solution is possible," the telegram ran. "They believe Iran has learned from Israel's attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor, and has dispersed the components of its nuclear program throughout Iran, with some elements in places that Israel does not know about."

Later on in the conversation, Levite told the Americans that Iran could obtain nuclear weapons within two to three years, but admitted the estimate could be inaccurate as "Israel does not have a clear or precise understanding of Iran's clandestine program."

Without citing any sources, Levite noted that there are rumors that Iran has already obtained "some warheads from Ukraine," the telegram added. He claimed that, "Israel knows that Iran has acquired cruise missiles from Ukraine."