PM Sharon:
‘Iran Is Making Still Bound On Producing Nuclear Weapons:
It Will Top My Agenda With President Bush’

IDF Intelligence:
‘Europeans Are Cooperating With Iranian Ploy To Produce One Nuclear Bomb Annually’

Broadcast March 4th, 2005 on

PM Ariel Sharon
(Photo: Amit Shabi)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s upcoming meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush may be delayed because of the Pope’s funeral; in any case, Sharon presented his positions on a number of issues the two leaders will likely discuss, when he briefed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today.

David Essing reports:

‘Iran is still making every effort to produce nuclear weapons and this will be at the top of my agenda with President Bush.’ This was the message from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A senior IDF intelligence officer also charged that ‘the Europeans appear to be siding with the Iranians an Iranian are cooperating with Iranians on a solution which would actually allow them to produce one nuclear bomb annually.

Iranian Reactor At Bushehr

Brig. Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser told the committee that the Iranians are trying to pull a fast one - they have offered European negotiators a deal; the Iranians would agree to operate only 3,000 of their 50,000 centrifuges. However, this potentially would still enable Teheran to produce one nuclear bomb a year. In return, international monitors could inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities and the Iranians would commit not to enrich uranium beyond 3.5%. Although 90% is required for nuclear weapons production required for nuclear weapons the operation of the centrifuges still provided an Iranian potential to produce one nuclear weapon annually. The intelligence officer warned that the Europeans appear to be siding with the Iranian offer. During the officer’s presentation, Sharon butted in declaring the Iranians have not given up their goal of producing nuclear weapons and this would be number one on his agenda when he meets President Bush in the U.S. The Prime Minister also lambasted the recent of by reporters of an Iranian nuclear site. The Prime Minister criticized what he called a ‘sham’; the Iranians had put on a show and shown the reporters nothing of importance.

  • President Mahmoud Abbas - just what is going in the Palestinian territories after terrorists shot up the President’s Mukata headquarters and the rest of Ramallah? The Palestinian Authority now has ‘two heads’; one belongs to President Abbas, the other to the terrorists who do not accept his authority. The Palestinian leader has tried to exploit the recent violence in his back yard by appointing new security officials. However, the terrorists have refused to give up their weapons and Abbas has backed off. The intelligence assessment - the Palestinian leader is not taking charge and ‘not delivering the goods.’ Meanwhile, the terror groups, unhindered are continuing to build up their weapons. The intelligence officer disclosed that Palestinian Authority officials have themselves been involved in illegal arms smuggling. The bottom line is that despite the apparent quiet, the terror threat is mounting all the time.
  • Warning - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and part of the President’s own Fetah organization may be seeking a pretext for launching a new wave of terror strikes against Israel. One excuse could be an attempt by Jewish worshippers to try and go up to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to pray. Brigadier Gadi Shemni from Operations Branch said there have been no major Palestinian attacks because the terrorists are biding their time and not as a result of counter-terror operations by Palestinian security. Nonetheless, Sharon says he is now considering the release of another 400 Palestinian security prisoners. In addition, after returning Jericho and Tul-Kerem, Israel is now considering handing back the town of Kalkilya. This will depend on what happens in the first two towns.
  • Gaza Withdrawal - the Prime Minister said he preferred coordinating the disengagement with the Palestinians; ‘ It was better that Mahmoud Abbas takes charge of the area rather than Hamas’. Vice-Premier Shimon Peres has been negotiating with the Palestinian leadership but Sharon quipped ‘they also have their differences’. No final decision has been taken on what Israel will do about the empty homes the settlers will evacuate. Israel has tried to interest the World Bank in buying the property but so far without results. Shinui MK Tommy Lapid suggested destroying the synagogues, so that they would not be desecrated, and leaving the other buildings in tact. The Prime Minister declared in no uncertain terms that Israel would react ‘most severely’ if the Palestinians opened fire during the actual evacuation.
  • Settlers - Sharon plans on meeting with settler leaders to try and reduce some of the tension; he will also visit areas allocated for their relocation. And he rejected that settlement in the territories has ended in ‘total disaster’. Sharon declared: ‘I don’t regret it, there have also been many achievements in preserving historic Jewish sites, the town of Ariel and more.’ As for the proposed building of 3,500 housing units to link the town of Maale Adumim in Judea nearby Jerusalem, Sharon did not view it as a problem, although it has drawn flak form the Bush administration and the Palestinians. The PM argued there was a need for the link-up and construction was to be carried out for a ten-year period.
  • Syria - despite Syria’s pledge to withdraw its troops from Lebanon by the end of April, this does not mean Damascus will relinquish its desire to dominate Lebanon. The recent spate of bombings in the Christian quarters of Beirut is viewed as Syrian inspired; to indicate that Lebanon’s stability would be jeopardized if the Syrians pull out. Damascus is also bolstering its ties with Hezbollah and trying to drive a wedge between the various opposition groups in Lebanon that demand Syria’s withdrawal. Damascus is also working to stir up differences between the U.S. and France that initiated the drive at the U.N. to oust Syria from Lebanon. Sharon dispelled any doubt about where he stands on the issue. A total Syrian pullout and the dismantling of Hezbollah was in Israel’s interest. He said those Israelis who said otherwise were harming the national interest.
  • Egypt - there were differences in the committee over Israel’s agreement to the deploying of 750 Egyptian border policemen along the Gaza frontier to prevent arms smuggling from Sinai into the Gaza Strip. If it succeeds, many more Egyptian security personnel will be stationed all the way to Eilat. Some committee members warned that this would spell the end of the demilitarization of Egyptian controlled Sinai. Chairman Yuval Steinitz charged that the Egyptians would exploit it to move in tanks in the future. ‘I don’t agree’ Sharon retorted; the most important thing now was to stop the arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza. Egypt was acting more against the arms smuggling and bilateral ties with Cairo were important. Sharon also contended that the military deal now worked out with the Egyptians does not affect the demilitarization clause in the Peace Treaty.
  • Jordan - Sharon spoke of relations with the Hashemite Kingdom as being close to ‘strategic cooperation’. Israel would soon be releasing 17 of 21 Jordanian prisoners - but 4 with Israeli blood on their hands would not be set free.

David Essing, ISRACAST, Jerusalem

Transcription done by Yael Yaffe-Last
Studio Production by Avi Yaffe Jerusalem Recording Studios LTD.


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