Netanyahu Exaggerated Iran Threat, Leaked Intelligence Documents Reveal

Just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress about the threat to Israel from Iran’s nuclear capabilities, documents obtained and verified by the Guardian confirm that the leader has greatly exaggerated Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon.

The news also comes in the midst of negotiations aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program between the the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany and Iran — talks the Netanyahu government opposes.

In fact, the Israeli prime minister regularly insists that Iran is nearing a “red-line” in its nuclear program, a point at which an Israeli attack to prevent the acquisition of a nuclear breakout capability would be inevitable, and argues that any negotiations that fail to completely eliminate Iran’s nuclear capacities would greatly endanger Israel and her allies. During a speech before the United Nations in September of 2012, Netanyahu warned the General Assembly that the such a threshold would likely be crossed in Spring or Summer 2013.

But documents obtained by the Guardian contradict Netanyahu’s claim.

In a cable sent to the government of South Africa in October 2012, Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, concluded that while Iran was working to “reduce the time required to produce weapons,” the country is “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons” and “does not appear to be ready” to enrich materials to the level necessary for weaponization. Mossad concluded that Iran had “about 100kg of material enriched to 20%,” far below the 90 percent threshold for creating a bomb.

This isn’t the first time Netanyahu has been at odds with his security apparatus. In 2013, Israeli intelligence officials indicated that Iran would be unable to produce a nuclear weapon until 2015 at the earliest. Current and former Israeli officials also regularly dispute Netanyahu’s dire warnings concerning Iran.

Netyanahu, who will stand for re-election for a historic fourth term next month, has run a campaign claiming that only he and his party can keep Israelis safe.