by Dan Raviv in Washington
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, answering some questions in public with President Barack Obama alongside in Jerusalem, emphasized that Israeli and U.S. intelligence assessments of Iran’s nuclear program do not differ. But there’s a differing sense of what “the timing” means to each country.
Somewhat surprisingly deciding not to disagree with his American guest on how long it might take for Iran to build nuclear bombs, Netanyahu said: “If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon, then it’s true it will take them about a year.” But he added that Iran’s uranium enrichment can reach a dangerous, unacceptable level even without a bomb being designed and constructed.
Netanyahu made a point of thanking Obama for saying in public that they have instructed their teams to negotiate a new ten-year security cooperation agreement. Their talks, behind closed doors, almost certainly included secret cooperation on many levels — including covert activities that the Mossad and the CIA have done together to retard Iran’s nuclear program.
Obama has begun a three-day visit to Israel, meant to counter the impression that many people had that he does not like the Jewish state. At Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport and then in Jerusalem, Obama repeatedly stressed his commitment to Israel’s security as the nation of the Jewish people.