The Sunday Times reported last weekend that Sir John Scarlett, the current head of MI6, is to fly to Israel at the end of the month to meet his counter-part, Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad. Whitehall has tried to downplay the meeting as “routine”. However, the focus of the meeting appears to be to discuss Israel’s assessment of Iran’s nuclear capability.
In recent years the neo-cons in power in the US have made no secret of their desire to “finish the job” in the Middle East and attack Iran. For the last two years there has been much sabre-rattling on both sides. The polemics from the US usually coincided with Iran’s plans to trade increasing amounts of its oil in euros. The south west region of Iran has vast oil reserves, and if Iran switched trading currencies, this would have an extremely detrimental effect on the power of the petrodollar, and the American economy as a whole.
Lest we forget, Saddam Hussein had also begun to trade in euros what little oil he could prior to the Iraq war in 2003. Scarlett, a career MI6 officer, played a leading role in making the case for that war. At the time he was Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, and came to public attention when he signed off the notorious September Dossier. It has since become apparent that Iraq did not have WMD, nor was it trying to acquire uranium from Niger, as MI6 had stated in the dossier. This claim was based on forged documents.
So the timing of the new Israeli intelligence is interesting, to say the least. Last week, Iran announced that it was going to trade ALL its oil in euros and the yen, and Israel appears to be furiously lobbying the US and UK about Iran’s increasing nuclear threat. Israeli intelligence sources are claiming that they have information “on a par with” that which led to the bombing of the Syrian nuclear power station.
Based on this, they are asking the US government to reassess the level of threat posed by Iran. In December 2007 the combined thinking of the whole of America’s intelligence infrastructure was published in the US National Intelligence Estimate. It clearly stated that Iran had stopped developing its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 because of international pressure.
But the apparent triumph of international diplomacy does not suit the agenda of the hawks in the US administration. What could be better than to have the spy agencies of its closest allies conveniently reveal new intelligence saying that Iran now poses an increasing nuclear threat?