The Current

Israeli PM Netanyahu contradicts Mossad on Iran's nuclear threat

It was in September of 2012. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the UN that Iran was months away from having nuclear weapons. But a leaked document suggests Netanyahu's own intelligence agency was contradicting him on Iran's ability to make a nuclear bomb. Or was it?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during his address to the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in 2012. (Richard Drew/The Associated Press)

"In the case of Iran's nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. Iran has to go through three stages. Iran completed the first stage. Now they are well into the second stage, and by next Spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move onto the final stage." - PM Netanyahu to UN 2012 

In the fall of 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood in front of the United Nations General Assembly, held up a picture of a cartoon bomb and said that Iran was about one year away from being able to make a nuclear weapon.

But according to a huge cache of leaked documents released earlier this week, Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, didn't share Prime Minister Netanyahu's sense of urgency. In fact, just a month after that speech, the Mossad's view was that - quote - "Iran, at this stage, is not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons."

The documents were leaked to Al Jazeera's investigative unit, which shared them with the British newspaper The Guardian. And they have led to much speculation about the state of relations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Mossad.

Yossi Melman is a security reporter with The Jerusalem Post and the co-author of "Spies Against Armageddon." He was in Tel Aviv.

Einat Wilf is a former member of the Israeli Parliament who served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. She's now a Senior Fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute and an Adjunct Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, She was in Tel Aviv.

Patricia DeGennaro teaches political science and international security at New York University. She was in Washington.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant and Howard Goldenthal.