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Iran's Nuclear Weapons Express

Prime Minister Netanyahu: 'Iran Is Galloping Toward Nuclear Weapons Like An Express Train While International Community Is Plodding Ahead Like An Old Jalopy'

China:' Time is Still Not Ripe For For Fresh Sanctions On Iran'

U.S. Secretary Of State Clinton:'It Will Take Months Before UN Security Council Approves New Sanctions'

Benyamin Netanyahu

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has expressed concern over the failure of the international community to impose new sanctions while Iran is racing toward nuclear weapons. However, China declares she is still opposed, Russia may reconsider and the U.S. says it may take months before the UN Security Council takes action. Barring unforeseen circumstances in Iran, David Essing sees Israel waiting for the diplomatic effort to run its course before deciding what if anything she should do. Against this background, Israeli civilians are being reissued with gas masks.

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated his concern over the international effort lagging behind Iran's dash to nuclear weapons. Netanyahu told a closed door session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee: 'Iran is galloping toward nuclear weapons like an express train while the international community is driving like an old jalopy!' On the other hand, Netanyahu was encouraged that the international community now comprehended Iran's true intentions, adding that only fresh sanction could deter the Iranians from developing the bomb. However, it was still not clear if Russian and China would drop their opposition to Security Council sanctions, although it was possible the Russians might not cast their veto. Russian President Medvedev has said that Moscow might consider sanctions if diplomacy did not succeed. But Beijing was still resisting - a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement argued against the sanctions saying the time was not ripe and called for a greater diplomatic effort. This in the face of Iran's latest defiance by upgrading her uranium enrichment to 20%, an indication of her intention to eventually break out to 90% weapons grade. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency, under new management, has also disclosed that Iran has apparently been working on a nuclear warhead. In spite of these factors, the UN Security Council is still marking time. If China remains adamant, preferring her Iranian oil imports and other trade benefits, the U.S. will have to seek another sanctions framework.

The Iranian Missile Range

In any case, the Obama administration is finally stepping up its efforts after wasting a year in fruitless diplomacy with Tehran. Two American emissaries are to fly to Beijing. For her part, Israel sent her own team team headed by Cabinet Minister Moshe Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff. It has returned home apparently failing to budge the Chinese. It is possible that military man Yaalon explained that if Tehran is not deterred and a military strike is launched against Iran, China's oil supplies will be disrupted anyway. Therefore, it was in China's interests to come aboard the sanctions. Iran is estimated to supply some 10% of China's oil supply and it's rumored that Saudi Arabia would be ready to make up this shortfall, if Tehran penalized Beijing. However, the bad news is that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believes it will take months for the Security Council to even approve new sanctions. Clinton told reporters on board a flight to South America that the Obama administration is working feverishly to get an acceptable sanctions proposal but she could not predict when it might be passed by the Security Council. Meanwhile, the U.S. is continuing the effort to keep Israel on a tight leash when it comes to any chance of her going it alone against Iran's nuclear facilities. After the visits by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Vice-President Joe Biden will soon fly in to Israel. Biden has been the most outspoken U.S. official, once saying that Israel would be 'ill-advised' in going it alone. In the other direction, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has just returned from Washington where his opposite number Robert Gates likely conveyed the same message. Not that the Israeli government is gung-ho for the dubious role of leading the pack against Iran. Such a gambit would trigger a torrent of missiles on Israel's towns and cities not only from Iran but from her surrogates - Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and possibly Syria, an Iranian ally. Netanyahu and Barak have signaled that although 'all options are on the table' they are giving America's new sanctions diplomacy a chance before considering what, if anything, to do. The key question is: 'Will the Iranian nuclear express continue to outrace the U.S. diplomatic jalopy?'

PS: In Israel, the Home Guard Command has just started reissuing gas masks to civilians.

David Essing

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