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Thursday, November 08, 2007

When Will Israel attack Iran?

Yesterday, Iranian madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that his country has 3000 working centrifuges to produce the enriched uranium required for nuclear weapons. This morning, the Times of London reports that there is 'panic' in the US because the government now believes that Israel is going to attack Iran.
Even before President Ahmadinejad’s announcement, a US defence official told The Times yesterday: “Israel could do something when they get to around 3,000 working centrifuges. The Pentagon is minded to wait a little longer.” US experts say 3,000 machines running for long periods could make enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb within a year.

Israel responded by serving notice that it would not tolerate a nuclear Iran. “Talks never did, and never will, stop rockets,” said Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister, after talks with the security cabinet.


Concern about Israel’s intentions has been heightened by its recent air strike on a suspected nuclear plant in Syria. In 1981 Israel destroyed Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi nuclear reactor, and as the sole — if undeclared — nuclear power in the region, it now considers Iran the most serious threat to its security. Mr Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”.

Efraim Inbar, of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, said that the figure of 3,000 centrifuges would signal the ability of Israel’s arch-foe to produce the nuclear material needed for a warhead. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we do something if the international community leaves us alone,” he said. “I think we [Israel] are preparing for it. For Israel this is a critical technological moment.”

Tehran says it plans to expand its enrichment programme to up to 54,000 centrifuges at Natanz in central Iran, which would amount to industrial-scale uranium enrichment.

Mr Ahmadinejad, speaking yesterday at a rally, said that UN sanctions had failed to halt uranium enrichment. “The world must know that this nation will not give up one iota of its nuclear rights . . . if they think they can get concessions from this nation, they are badly mistaken,” he said. He has in the past claimed that Iran succeeded in installing the 3,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facility but yesterday’s speech was the first time he had said all of them were now operational.

The International Atomic Energy Authority recently put the figure at closer to 2,000, with another 650 being tested. The IAEA said yesterday: “We will be publishing a report next week. We will not make any comment about this until then.” Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, is shortly to report on Iran’s willingness to give up uranium enrichment in exchange for political and trade incentives.
I have a few comments to make. First, as implied by the image at top left, I fail to understand the 'panic' in Washington if Israel is going to attack Iran. It is in the United States' best interests for Iran to be stopped, and the US ought to be grateful if Israel does the job for them. With hindsight it is widely acknowledged that Israel saved the world from a major problem by taking out Saddam Hussein's nuclear plant in 1981. You also don't hear a lot of complaints from anyone other than Syria, Iran and North Korea about Israel having (apparently) taken out Syria's nuclear plant in September of this year. So why the panic?

Second, the title of this post was meant to convey to all of you that yes, I do believe that Israel will attack the Iranian nuclear production line eventually, whether the United States participates actively or passively. With George Bush in office, I don't see the United States doing anything to stop Israel from attacking once the administration is satisfied that Iran is close to the point of no return. If it looks like a Clinton presidency is on the way, I believe Israel will attack regardless of how far along Iran is. Will it happen tomorrow? I doubt it. Will it happen in the next six months? Possibly. In the next twelve months? Almost definitely, unless by some miracle, sanctions work. Last week, Israel's military intelligence reported that Iran will have the bomb "by 2009" unless something is done. You can bet that they plan to do something about it.

Third, I don't know what it will take for the world to understand that sanctions will not work. In Hebrew we would say that Ahmadinejad "m'tzaftzef al ha'olam" (Ahmadinejad is thumbing his nose at the world). Whenever the world finally understands that sanctions won't work is going to be too late for Israel. We're his first target and we're much closer to him than the US or Europe. We have to take a more proactive approach.

Fourth, the IAEA proves once again that it is completely useless as an enforcement mechanism. I've spoken several times about why Israel cannot and will not ever rely on the IAEA. Most recently here.

Finally, please don't be lulled into thinking that Israel won't act because of Olmert's weak standing as a Prime Minister. Except when it comes to the 'Palestinians' - about whom Israel has been sold a lie that it is 'oppressing' them - Israel has a very strong survival instinct. More than two thousand years in the diaspora does that to you. You would have to look very hard to find a Jew in this country who would disagree with the statement: "Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran." Despite last summer's debacle, if the government decides that it's time to take out the nukes, they will benefit from wall-to-wall support. But you can bet on something else: When it happens, you and I will be the last to know about it.

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At 6:32 PM, Blogger RebeccaH said...

There's no "panic" in the US. Consider the source of the report. Ordinary Americans understand the danger of Iran very well.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Israel will live with the Iran which Iran wants; there is no alternative.

It's a form of the same 'deterrence-ism' which has prevented a WWIII. The Rooskies and we knew and still know that MAD is the last line on the ledger.

Israel will tolerate Iran's big mouth.

At 1:14 AM, Blogger Richard said...

When is the key word, because it will happen and I believe before summer is over in North America.
Iran is racing in the race of their life, dont you think they know how thin the line is between life and death, where Isrial is concerned. Personaly, I want to see Iran obliterated, remember our hostages ? So lets see if anyone has what it takes to stop Iran.

At 2:16 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I agree there is no "panic"in the U.S. On the contrary, I firmly believe that many of us think that actions against Iran can't happen soon enough.


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