In early April 2009, President Obama announced significant new initiatives in dealing with WMD proliferation by nation states and terrorist groups. Moreover, the Obama administration essentially had its senior national security leadership in place, including Intelligence Community leaders: Admiral Dennis Blair as the Director of National Intelligence and Leon Panetta as Director of CIA. Meanwhile, the countries of primary proliferation concern continued on their former paths.
Iran. As reported in the New York Times (David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, New York Times, March 14, 2009, p. WK 1), in early March 2009 Israel reacted harshly to the February 2009 announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran had enriched uranium to reactor grade so as to possess enough fissile material, should a decision be made to enrich such uranium upwards to weapons-grade, for one nuclear weapon. The chief of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, said in Jerusalem that Iran had “crossed the technological threshold” and that Iran's reaching “military nuclear capabilities” was “a matter of adapting its strategy to the target of manufacturing a nuclear bomb.” This alarmist reaction by Israel came about a year after Israel allegedly made a private, unsuccessful request to the Bush administration for bunker-busting bombs, the right to overfly Iraq, and refueling capabilities so that Israeli warplanes would be able to attack the principal Iranian uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
However, there seemed to be serious differences between the United States and Israel as to how urgently to treat this threat. Israel declared that it wanted to see diplomacy with Iran begin promptly and to end “by late spring or early summer.” Otherwise, it was argued, the Iranians would simply drag on negotiations endlessly while continuing their nuclear weapon program. By contrast, the Obama administration was only planning to begin serious discussions after the Iranian presidential election in June. According to the New York Times report, the Intelligence Community estimated that Iran might have enough HEU for a nuclear weapon by the end of 2009, but more likely somewhere between 2010