The U.S. intelligence community has not been surprised by Iran's refusal to respond to a Western incentive package to suspend its uranium enrichment. Intelligence sources said Iran, following North Korea's model, intends to delay any response or negotiations for as long as possible.
The European Union and the United States demanded that Iran reply to the Western incentive package of nuclear technology, fuel and aircraft by June 29. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Teheran would submit an answer by Aug. 22.
The U.S. intelligence community has been trying to figure out why Ahmadinejad chose that date. Sources said the community was stumped until some Islam experts translated the Gregorian date to that of the Muslim calendar.
Then came the surprise that has the intelligence community worried.
Aug. 22 corresponds to Rajab 27 on the Muslim calendar. The date is called Lailat Al Israa, when Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Al Aqsa mosque to receive the five daily prayers. Later, Al Aqsa came to represent Jerusalem.