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Iran's Smoking Gun Nears Mushroom Cloud!

Israel Expects U.S. President Obama Will Now Call On UN Security Council To Impose Stiffer Sanctions On Iran After Disclosure That Iran Has Been Working On Nuclear Trigger Since 2007

Knesset Member Hanegbi: 'Sanctions Should Bar Iranian aircraft From Landing Anywhere In The World & Boycott On Iran's Oil Exports & Gasoline Imports'

Latest Opinion Poll Gives Prime Minister Netanyahu & Defense Minister Barak High Performance Ratings

 After months of fruitless dialogue, this week's expose by the London Times about an Iranian nuclear 'trigger' and the launching of a new long range Iranian missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead indicated that Iran may be closer to developing a nuclear weapon than previously suspected. Analyst David Essing assesses these latest developments from the Israeli perspective and what Israelis think about U.S. President Barack Obama and their own country's leadership at this crucial time.

 If not stopped, Iran's smoking gun will lead to a nuclear mushroom cloud and sooner rather than later. This is the only sensible conclusion to the London Times revelation that as far back as 2007, Tehran conducted research on a neutron initiator, used exclusively for producing nuclear weapons. The device actually triggers a nuclear explosion and experts agree 'it has no possible civilian or military use other than for nuclear weapons work'. Ironically in the same year,  the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate actually played down the possibility that Iran was developing nuclear weapons by revealing that Iran had suspended the weapons unit working on the conversion of her enriched uranium into a nuclear warhead.

At the time, this American evaluation staggered Israeli officials, who noted that the Iranians were still pursuing their uranium enrichment and the third component, the development of a missile delivery system. But the revelation about Iran's clandestine nuclear trigger, as did the uncovering of the secret uranium enrichment facility being constructed near Qom last September, also indicates that the devious Iranian regime might be closer to producing the bomb than any foreign intelligence service is aware. In any case, it should put paid to Russian and Chinese prevarication about there being no proof the Iranians are really developing nuclear weapons - unless they of course will only accept the mushroom cloud of a nuclear test.

Muhammed Al- Baradei

The other components are falling into place. Even the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna now seriously suspects, after years of being in denial under the leadership of former chairman Dr. Muhammed Al- Baradei, that Tehran really is working at full tilt to acquire the bomb. The Iranians have now produced 1,800 kilos of low grade enriched uranium that they can enrich to weapons grade whenever they decide to so with their existing centrifuges. The exposure of their work on the neutron initiator proves they have been working on an atomic bomb since at least 2007. As for the third element - a delivery system for a nuclear weapon - if any further proof was needed the Iranians supplied it by now launching the Sajjil-II missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers. It is a solid fuel missile that can be launched swiftly and flies faster than its predecessor the Shihab -III that could also reach Israel. But on the other hand, the Sajjil-II can not only reach Tel Aviv but also Moscow and parts of south-eastern Europe. No doubt the Kremlin has more than a passing interest.

The bottom line is that U.S. President Barack Obama's effort to diplomatically engage Iran with the aim of steering Tehran off its nuclear course has apparently run aground. Obama's foreign policy of  lofty intentions has hit the brick wall of harsh Islamist realities  and not only in Iran. On the other hand, by dint of his sustained and serious diplomatic attempt, the American leader has proven there is no alternative other than now imposing  stiffer sanctions on Iran.  The U.S. Congress, at least on this issue, is solidly behind the president who is expected to present a new sanctions resolution to the UN Security Council in January. He can count on Britain and France for support but will Russia and China again prefer their commercial interests with Iran?

Tony Blair

The stakes are exceedingly high and not only for the Jewish state -  former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated unequivocally: 'There is no future for the Middle East, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons!'  Back in Jerusalem, Knesset Member Zachi Hanegbi who chairs the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee speaks optimistically about the international community imposing 'crippling sanctions' that could force Iran to halt in her nuclear tracks. Hanegbi suggests such sanctions as barring all Iranian aircraft from landing anywhere in the world and enforcing a boycott on Iranian oil exports, gasoline imports  and other commercial interests. In his view, the 'disharmony' in the international arena has enable Iran to evade paying a price for its nuclear weapons program.

Is Iran finally getting the message? The A-Siasa newspaper in Kuwait, a country also in Iran's cross-hairs, has reported that Tehran has summoned Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Mualem, and Sheik Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader in Lebanon, for consultations. According to the report, the Iranians wish to tell their allies what is expected of them if Iran's nuclear installation are attacked. Another media report, apparently leaked by American sources, tells of anonymous U.S.officials warning their Chinese counter-parts that Washington may not be able to stave off Israel from attacking Iranian nuclear sites much longer.

This obviously could be added pressure on China to support new UN sanctions on Iran, which supplies much of China's oil imports. However, it could also mean that the U.S., as a last resort may be considering the idea of leaving Israel to go it alone. The  media and many foreign commentators often portray Israel as 'champing at the bit' and liking nothing better than a chance to attack Iran for threatening to 'wipe Israel off the map' (apparently with the nuclear weapons it is developing). It is not as simple as that. Although successive Israeli prime ministers have declared that Iran must not be allowed to acquire the bomb and the Jewish people have no intention of suffering another Holocaust, Israel will pay dearly for a solo strike against Iran.

IsraCast previously reported on the threat posed by tens of thousands of conventional rockets and missiles, supplied by Iran and Syria, that are deployed with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This obviously is in addition to the missile arsenals of the Iranian and Syrian armies. Today southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip serve as advanced Iranian bases for attacking Israel and would join in the fray pummeling all of Israel with torrents of rockets and missiles. This has to be taken into consideration in the cost-effectiveness of Israel attacking Iran on its own. If the U.S. and the international community do not take decisive action, the alternative would be for Israeli leaders to play Russian roulette with Iran for the survival of the Jewish state. And that is why, Israeli decision-makers such as Zachi Henegbi are still hoping that the rest of the world are not waiting for Israel to do the job for them.

Netanyahu and Obama in the White House (Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Leadership - Obama & Netanyahu ... It is no secret that many Israelis viewed the U.S. Obama's dialogue with Iran as a major blunder by an inexperienced and naive president.  The U.S. would be stalled by the Iranians as they continued their devious tactics all the way to acquiring the bomb. Iran would do a repeat performance of what they did with European negotiators - sometimes one step forward but always two steps back. Obama not only spoke softly he aimed the proverbial big stick not at Tehran but at Jerusalem. The source of nearly all America's foreign policy headaches in the Middle East were the Israeli settlements on the West Bank. If only the Israeli government would agree to halt the building at settlements, nearly all else would fall into place.

With the exception of Jerusalem and the 3,000 housing units in the pipeline, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did just that, paying a considerable price with many of his far right supporters who voted for him less than a year ago. However, rather than welcoming Netanyahu's gesture, which no other Israeli PM, including Rabin, Peres, Barak or even Olmert ever offered, a taciturn Abbas Abbas upped the ante by first insisting that Jerusalem be included in the building freeze and secondly that Israel must agree to a total withdrawal to the 1967 lines ( negating UN Security Council resolution 242, the cornerstone of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from time immemorial). And lo and behold! Not only are the Palestinians refusing to negotiate on founding their own Palestine , the Iranians are still hell bent on getting the bomb.

But more than anything else, it's Afghanistan that is the heart of the matter and which has taught Prof. Obama a lesson he articulated in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech - 'Yes there is evil out there and democracies must fight just wars to confront it'. Obama's Oslo insights were welcome news to Israeli ears... the U.S. President now understood that a foreign policy of good- will cannot cope with the evil - intentions of Islamist fanatics'. Not the brutal Iranian regime, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in southern Lebanon or Hamas, the other half of the Palestinians, in the Gaza Strip that openly vows to annihilate Israel. (The Haaretz disclosure that Mahmoud Abbas did not accept the offer by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of unprecedented concessions such as the return of some Palestinian refugees to Israel, the transfer of Israeli village fields to Gaza and the administration of Jerusalem by an international board poses a crucial question; can the even so-called Palestinian moderates agree to make peace with Israel. In retrospect, clearly Abbas cannot expect to ever get such a similar offer from Netanyahu).

While Obama's performance rating has been sliding lately at home, he would now appear to be more popular in Israel. And what of Israel's leadership. An Israel Broadcasting poll has indicated that most Israelis feel that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

Sixty-one per cent of Israelis think Netanyahu is doing a good to very good job while 56% also give Barak a positive rating. The poll cut across Likud, Kadima and Labor supporters possibly indicating that this is the political posture of most Israelis today. In other words, Netanyahu's decision to impose the ten-month settlement freeze to placate Obama, obviously perceived as a move to the Left, has been favored by most Israeli voters.

David Essing

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