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Iran Passes Nuclear Weapons Threshold

IDF Intelligence: 'Iran Now Has Sufficient Enriched Uranium For Producing At Least One Atomic Bomb, If She Decides To Do So!'

U.S. President Barack Obama Declares There Are Just Wars Against Forces Of Evil - Impossible To Negotiate With Muslim Fanatics Like al-Qaida

IDF's 'Cast Lead' Operation Into Gaza Has Drastically Reduced Palestinian Rocketing Of Israeli Towns & Villages During Past Year

Iranian President Ahmadinejad

This week, Israel officially revealed that Iran now has sufficient enriched uranium for proceeding with the production of at least one atomic bomb. The disclosure came from Brig.Gen. Yossi Bidatz, the commander of the research department in the IDF Intelligence Branch. However, the intelligence officer told the Knesset Foreign affairs & Defense Committee there is still no evidence the Iranian regime has defied the international community and taken the decision to go nuclear. At the same time, the Iranians have developed missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. Also addressing the closed door hearing, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated: ' Israel's paramount security concern is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons'. Analyst David Essing assesses some of the key issues in Israel over the past seven days.

Iran now has 1,800 kilos of enriched uranium, a potential for producing one and half atomic bombs!' This is the latest estimate of Brig.Gen. Yossi Bidatz, who heads the research branch of the IDF's intelligence branch. However although Iran has passed the technological threshold for producing nuclear weapons, it has not yet taken the political decision to do so. Moreover, Iran's clandestine nuclear facility near the city of Qom was clearly part of the nuclear weapons project and not designed for peaceful purposes, as claimed by the Iranians after the dramatic disclosure by foreign intelligence services. This was one ticking clock in his view, there were two others: an Iranian missile to deliver a nuclear warhead and and the 'international dynamics' for barring Tehran from acquiring the bomb.

As for the delivery system, Bidatz said the Iranians have also succeeded in developing missiles that could carry a nuclear warhead with the range to reach Israel. This left the third ticking clock, the international campaign to deter Iran from 'breaking out' to full blown nuclear weapons production. So much for the IDF assessment presented to the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee. Surprisingly, the intelligence assessment that Iran now has sufficient enriched uranium to produce an atomic bomb did not alarm the Israeli public. This certainly does not indicate that Israelis are indifferent to their fate and that of their families of their families; it does indicate they have great confidence that their country has both the offensive capability (Israel Air Force) to cope with the looming Iranian threat and the defensive capability (Arrow anti- missile system) to protect them.

In his subsequent briefing, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated: 'Israel's paramount security interest is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons!' Netanyahu indicated he had not lost hope that Tehran could be deterred. He noted that over the past year, the regime has been losing legitimacy with the international community and the ongoing demonstrations demonstrations inside Iran were having a noticeable impact. The Israeli leader viewed these developments as 'important' in the campaign headed by U.S. President Barack Obama. But so far, Iranian President Ahmadeninjad has been thumbing his nose at Obama and rejecting the IAEA's proposal to further enrich Iran's uranium in Russia and France. In Netanyahu's assessment, it was now a question of whether the UN Security Council would impose stiffer sanctions against Iran in 2010.

The Iranian Missile Range

What does it boil down to? When all is said and done, Iran is proceeding full steam ahead with its nuclear weapons program. The clandestine nuclear installation being built near Qom indicates the Iranians may have other secret sites now operating which have yet to be uncovered. If so, the Iranians may be closer to the bomb than the outside world is aware of. At the same time, the recent resurgence of the student demonstrations and the regime's subsequent crackdown also indicates that President Ahmedenijad and his religious masters may be facing mounting internal opposition. Amnesty International has issued a report accusing the regime of systematic brutality that includes the mass raping and other torture of arrested protesters. On Students' Day, protesters again took to the streets of Tehran chanting 'death to the dictator' and were again set upon the by the 'Beseej' militia, recruited from religious and rural areas of the country and loyal to the regime.

According to the Israeli intelligence assessment, Iran is advancing with its nuclear weapons program while reports from Iran indicate that the domestic unrest is still seething. This then is the backdrop to President Barack Obama's warnng that he will draw conclusions on stiffer sanctions by the end of the month, if Tehran keeps stonewalling on uranium enrichment. The trick will be how to impose meaningful sanctions on Iran that will not rally public opinion behind the regime. Hopefully, they would serve to further weaken it in the eyes of the internal opposition which is fed up with being ruled by religious fanatics.

Hezbollah Terrorists

Hezbollah: The UN Security Council resolution #1701 has been a total flop - that's Netanyahu's assessment of the UN resolution that ended the Second Lebanon War of 2006. The resolution was tasked with preventing the return of Hezbollah guerrillas to south Lebanon, where they could again harass the Jewish state with cross border attacks. IDF intelligence officer Bidatz told the committee that despite the beefed- up UN forces in south Lebanon, 'thousands of Hezbollah fighters had infiltrated south of the Litani River and they had replenished their arsenal with tens of thousands of rockets capable of reaching southern Israel'. There were several ramifications. First, Netanyahu clarified that since Hezbollah was now officially serving in the new Lebanese government, Lebanon would bear full responsibility for any future Hezbollah aggression against Israel. (During the Second Lebanon War, the IDF restricted its raids to mainly Hezbollah targets. This then will not be the case next time and all of Lebanon will become a battleground). On this score, the Prime Minister noted that Hezbollah now serves as the real Lebanese army.

The failure of the international effort to keep the pro-Iranian guerrillas at bay, obligated Israel to draw additional conclusions when it came to concluding a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Netanyahu revealed that he had told President Obama that Israel would insist on several conditions. There would have to be an 'effective monitoring mechanism' for preventing illegal weapons smuggling into a future Palestinian state. Israel would not depend again solely on a UN force but would insist in playing a role in such an operation. Secondly, a peace agreement must include a 'finality of claims' clause stipulating that the Palestinians could not raise any future demands concerning Arab populations living in Galilee or the Negev. Netanyahu made clear that a demographic majority of Arabs living in Galilee and the Negev must not be allowed to become the pretext for new Palestinian irredentist claims. He insisted this had to be clearly stipulated in any future peace agreement. In the past, several Israel experts have pointed to the possibility that after the founding of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians would focus their attention on 'self-determination' for Arabs in the Negev and Galilee where they outnumber Jews in some locales. (On this issue, Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, who actually served as an adviser to Yasser Arafat, was once asked about how he envisaged the future of Israeli Arabs after a peace treaty. Tibi replied that there was always the precedent of the Sudetenland in World War ll Czechoslovakia. Then Tibi quickly added: ' Forget it , I was just kidding'. Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland on the pretext of trump-up charges that residents of German descent were being persecuted.)

In any case, it was the first time that an Israeli prime minister raised this issue. For the present, it has apparently cropped up in the negotiations with Hamas on the prisoner exchange for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel has refused to free Israeli Arabs who are serving time for terrorism because this would grant Israeli recognition that Hamas represented Israeli Arabs.

In the meantime, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are still in the deep freeze - West Bank President Mahmoud Abbas is sticking by his prior condition that Netanyahu must not only freeze building in the West Bank settlements but also in Jerusalem. There is no way that the Israeli Prime Minister will agree. If anything, Abbas is counting on unilateral steps in the international arena such as the European Union's recognition of East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state and similar diplomatic exercises at the UN. For his part, Netanyahu, under fire from his right-wing supporters at home over the settlement freeze, has approved the granting of 'privileged economic status' for some of the settlements that are outside of the settlement blocs on the West Bank. By looking in two conflicting directions, Washington abroad and his constituents at home, Netanyahu can be likened to the Greek god Janus (January) who must look back to the past year and ahead to the new, at one and the same time.

'Cast Lead' Reviewed: Nearly one year ago, the IDF launched its 'Cast Lead Operation' into the Gaza Strip to halt the eight years of Palestinian rocketing of Israeli towns and villages. The IDF has revealed that Cast Lead has slashed the Palestinian attacks by 90% as compared to the previous year. 'Only' 242 rockets and mortar bombs were fired from Gaza during the past twelve months. In the same time frame, there have been ninety-one Palestinian firing attempts, mostly small arms across the border. Although Palestinian splinter groups and not Hamas have carried out the attacks, Hamas is continuing its military build-up with weapons smuggled in from Egyptian-controlled Sinai. IDF sources warned the relative quiet could change overnight. Israeli forces were on the alert in a defensive mode mainly reacting to the sporadic Palestinian attacks. There had been an ongoing debate in Israel about whether there was a military answer to eliminating Palestinian terrorism. However, this begs the question of how a democratic state such as Israel must react when threatened by an enemy which believes it has the military answer, that is terrorism, for achieving victory?

Although a severe military response may not provide the answer to the source of the conflict, the results of Cast Lead have proven that it was a necessary operation, despite Richard Goldstone. In this vein, it is interesting to look at the Nobel Peace Prize address by President Barack Obama now engaged, as is Israel, in wars with Islamist guerrillas on several fronts. He defined the complexity of how democratic nations must confront the threat and in this context surely Israel, facing no less grave threats, is entitled to the right of self-defense as is the U.S.

President Obama in Oslo:

Barack Obama

'There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. I face the world as it is , and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American (Israeli) people'.

'Make no mistake; evil does exist in the world'

'A nonviolent movement would not have halted Hitler's (Ahmadenijad's) armies!'

Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida ( Hamas and Hezbollah) to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism. It is a recognition of history'.

And this follow-up to the IsraCast position on the Swiss referendum that voted against building minarets on mosques:

French President Nicole Sarkozy has expressed support for the Swiss referendum that has sparked an angry response in much of the Muslim world. Sarkozy has written: 'Believers should not flaunt their religion in a provocative manner that may violate the sensitivities of other religions'. And the french leader added that he was surprised by the sharp criticism of the Swiss referendum that voted to bar the minarets by a majority of 57%. However French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has condemned the referendum result and called for a rescinding of the ban. In his article in the newspaper Le Monde , Sarkozy defended the Swiss decision relating it to the current debate in France on the question of national identity. He wrote: 'Instead of automatically condemning the Swiss we must attempt to understand what they tried to express and what many people in Europe, including France, feel today'. Sarkozy appealed to the six million Muslims in France, the largest community in Europe, to express their religion with discretion while the French should pledge to combat any manifestation of discrimination.

David Essing

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