Gates’ ‘Wake-Up’ Note to Obama

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent President Obama a secret “wake-up” call warning of lack of strategy to deal with an Iranian nuclear threat.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 10:32

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Isael news photo: Flash 90

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent President Barack Obama in January a secret “wake-up” call warning of lack of strategy to deal with an Iranian nuclear threat, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The White House has denied the charges, and the Defense Secretary’s spokesman issued a non-committal statement: “The secretary believes the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran.”

The memo warned President Obama that his administration had no long-term strategy to deal with the growing inevitability that the Islamic Republic will be able to produce a nuclear weapon.

He suggested that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might adopt a tactic of being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while having at hand all of the available parts to assemble a nuclear weapon for a warhead, which presumably would be aimed at Israel.

Defense Secretary Gates last week stated on American television, “If their (Iran’s) policy is to go to the threshold but not assemble a nuclear weapon, how do you tell that they have not assembled? I don’t actually know how you would verify that.”

Aides to the president defended the administration, stating that it has been planning several scenarios to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

Last week, President Obama concentrated on the threat that Al-Qaeda terrorists may gain access to a nuclear weapon. His strategy has been to “engage” Iran in diplomatic talks and, if necessary, place crippling economic sanctions against it. However, a 2009 “deadline” for Iran to respond to diplomatic engagement passed without a strong American reaction, except for rhetoric.

President Obama’s advisors then unsuccessfully tried to scare the international community into backing harsh sanctions by revealing that Iran was building a new uranium enrichment plant. His latest effort was to attract China to attend a “nuclear summit” where optimistic statements were issued without reference to intense opposition from Beijing. It is dependent on Iranian oil, has worked with Iran on its nuclear program and also is against gas and oil sanctions that might stop Irans' nuclear development in its tracks.

Despite Secretary Gates “wake-up” memo, he stated as far back as last May that bombing Iran might delay Iran from gaining nuclear capability but would not stop it. "Even a military attack will only buy us time and send the program deeper and more covert," he told the Senate Appropriations Committee. He previously said that bombing Iran would "create generations of jihadists.”

However, he has not issued a clear-cut strategy on how to deal with Iran other than the same measures President Obama has suggested. Two years ago, Secetary Gates stated, "We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage . . . and then sit down and talk with them. My personal view would be we ought to look for ways outside of government to open up the channels and get more of a flow of people back and forth. We ought to increase the flow the other way . . . of Americans visiting Iran.”