JERUSALEM – The intelligence communities of Israel and the United States differ over Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons.

“I think that beyond that there is, of course, a certain difference in perspective and difference in judgment, difference in the internal clocks and difference in capabilities,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

In a Feb. 26 address to the Washington Institute, Mr. Barak acknowledged that Israel and the United States might not bridge their differences over Iran’s capabilities. He said the U.S. objections to Israel’s assessment should not block any campaign against Tehran’s nuclear program.

“And I don’t think that there is a need to coordinate in this regard,” Mr. Barak said. “That should be understood. It should be an exchange of views. We do not need to coordinate every step.”

The statement marked a rare occasion that Mr. Barak, regarded as the most U.S.-oriented member of the Israeli Cabinet, played down the need to coordinate with the administration of President Barack Obama. Mr. Barak, however, stressed that Israel supported Mr. Obama’s policy to employ diplomacy rather than military means against Iran.

“We clearly support the attempt to solve it through diplomacy,” Mr. Barak said.

The Israeli government has been pressing the U.S.administration for a timetable for harsh U.S. sanctions on Tehran, beginning with a gasoline embargo that would spark critical fuel shortages in Iran.

Instead, Washington has moved cautiously in efforts to draft sanctions against Iran. The State Department has ruled out significant measures against Iran’s energy sector.

For his part, Mr. Barak did not rule out the prospect that Iran could develop what he termed “second or second-and-a-half generation of nuclear warheads.” He said these warheads could be installed on ballistic missiles that could reach Moscow or Paris.

“If Iran will not be stopped from moving there, it will reach a certain point of nuclear military capability, and one can close his eyes and see what it means,” Mr. Barak said. “What is really needed is significant sanctions, effective ones with a time limit, together with the Russians and the Chinese.”

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.