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BEIRUT, Lebanon – Israel was the first to raise the prospect that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad may have used the chemical weapon Sarin on the civilian population, and that raised U.S. concerns that Damascus had crossed a “red line” that President Barack Obama said would be a game changer on U.S. military involvement, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Until now, the Obama administration has resisted outside pressure to create a no-fly zone and provide weapons to the Syrian opposition. With the revelation by a senior Israeli intelligence officer that chemical weapons may have been used, however, the administration wasn’t so sure.
However, U.S. Secretary John Kerry said that there was no solid evidence of their use, saying that the revelation on their possible use was only an Israeli intelligence assessment. The administration then said it needed more solid evidence, such as soil and tissue samples, as well as who used them.
Israelis suggested it was a “slip” by the senior intelligence official who publicly offered the assessment, leading to the prospect that the revelation actually was designed to probe Obama’s “red-line” philosophy and to shape U.S. reaction to Obama’s claim to hold to a “red line” on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
Sources say that the revelation was a possible concerted attempt to ambush U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was wrapping up a visit in Israel.
Israel believes that Iran is near a breakthrough in the development of a nuclear weapon, but U.S. intelligence doesn’t agree.
Israel is concerned that Iran’s nuclear development program is to mask a nuclear weapon program and has put pressure on the United Nations and the U.S. as well as many NATO allies to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran for its nuclear enrichment efforts.
The Jewish state believes that Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts are to produce sufficient amounts to produce a nuclear weapon.
Iran, however, vehemently denies that its nuclear program is to develop nuclear weapons and insists that it is to enrich uranium to fuel its reactors and enrich up to 20 percent for medical research. Enrichment of 90 percent or better is necessary to produce a nuclear weapon.
In addition, Iran said it has an absolute right to enrich uranium as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the international nuclear watchdog.
Israel, which is assessed to have upwards of some 200 tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, is neither a signatory to the NPT nor a member of the IAEA.
The effort by the senior Israel intelligence official was to judge how “moveable” Obama’s “red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons would be, according to Alistair Crooke, a former British Intelligence MI6 official.
“If Obama’s red line on Syria were to be shown to be somehow ‘moveable,’ then Israeli officials could suggest that Obama’s ‘red line’ on Iran may prove to be equally ‘unreliable,’ thus exposing him to domestic pressures to state a more ‘concrete’ red line for Iran, just as Israel advocates,” Crooke said.
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