Iran will likely reach the nuclear tipping point in late 2009 or early 2010, the heads of the Mossad and Military Intelligence told the cabinet on Sunday, during an in-depth briefing on the strategic situation facing the country in 2008.
The assessments were given by representatives from the Mossad, Military Intelligence, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the intelligence arm of the Foreign Ministry, and the Israel Police.
At the same time, the Mossad and Military Intelligence concurred that there was a low probability of war in 2008.
While the intelligence officials said Iran was likely to reach a "point of no return" in its nuclear program by the end of 2009, they added that Syria was also engaged in an intense armament program and was deploying long-range missiles.
Both the Syrian and the Iranian strategic doctrines were now based on the assumption that Israel could not be beaten in conventional war, due to its superiority on land and in the air, but rather by missiles aimed at the home front.
The representatives from the Mossad and Military Intelligence said the region was in the midst of a struggle between a radical axis led by Iran, and a pragmatic camp that included Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt. They said that the pragmatic states did not face any immediate danger to their regimes.
Foreign Ministry representatives said the US was suffering from a declining status in the Middle East, and this was causing an increase in the maneuverability of other players in the region, "including radical ones."
On the Palestinian front, the intelligence officials said there was a certain drop in support for Hamas and a boost for Fatah, but this change was not considered significant. As long as the diplomatic process between Israel and Fatah continued, they said, the chances of an agreement between Hamas and Fatah were low.
Opmerking: Dit leest geruststellend, althans voor de korte termijn. Toch blijf ik rekening houden met een gecoordineerde Amerikaanse en Israelische aanval op Iran (en Syrie en Hezbollah in Libanon). Tijdens de recente strijd tussen de Irakese regeringstroepen en de militia van Al Sadr – die de zwakte van eerstgenoemden aantoonde -, is van Amerikaanse zijde veelvuldig Iran beschuldigd van het steunen van Al Sadr.