Israeli Policy on Tehran Unchanged by American Assessment

Israel will continue reviewing the implications of the U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran has no nuclear program, and will not stop its diplomatic and public relations efforts against the Iranian bomb, government officials decided yesterday.

The statement came after a meeting called by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss the significance of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate.

Olmert said at the meeting that Israel's strict working assumption had not changed.

Meanwhile, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that Iran had been cleared of blame to a certain extent, and that the report gives Iran a window of opportunity to solve the crisis.

China and Russia, members of the United Nations Security Council, said that the need for sanctions against Iran should be reevaluated in light of the report.

The Israeli diplomatic effort will focus on preserving a united international front against Iran, and ensuring that it does not crumble in the wake of the U.S. report.

"Even if there is a 10-percent chance of Iran attaining a nuclear bomb in 2009, we need to view this with the utmost seriousness," a government source in Jerusalem said.

"The report plays into the hands of those who do not want to do anything against Iran, but it is important to remember that all of Iran's actions that angered the international community have not changed," the source said.

The source added, "Uranium enrichment is continuing, as is the foiling of monitors and the problems of negotiations with the European Union. In our opinion there is place for additional sanctions."

The source also said that it would have been "good if the report had not been written as it was," and that "clearly it will limit the freedom of action of President Bush, but the report and its conclusions can be dealt with."

Livni: Iran violating UN decisions

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni yesterday told Slovenian President Danilo Turk, who is president-elect of the Council of the European Union, that Iran is violating Security Council decisions and acquiring technology that will allow it to further develop its nuclear program.

"As we are speaking, Iran is continuing to enrich uranium in order to obtain know-how that it could use for military purposes," Livni said while visiting Slovenia.

"Iran is testing the international community's resilience."

Livni asked Turk to use his power to counter Iran's nuclear ambitions. NATO spokesman James Appathurai told Haaretz yesterday that NATO still is concerned about the Iranian missiles even after the report.

In response to a question by Haaretz, Appathurai said that Iran was being discussed in the context of a NATO assessment of missile threats, and only in this context, in which NATO's concerns have not lessened.