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Israel & Fateful Sanctions on Iran

Cabinet Minister Silvan Shalom: 'After Upcoming IAEA Exposure On Iran's Nuclear Weapons Development, Israel Should Give Another Chance For More Severe Sanctions!'

'Israel Is A Democracy - Netanyahu & Barak Could Not Decide On Their Own To Launch A Pre-Emptive Strike Against Iran'

IsraCast Assessment: Israel Anticipating That International Atomic Energy Agency Will Reveal Its Evidence That Iran Is Bent On Building Nuclear Weapons

Iranian missiles (photo: MEHR)

 The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, may soon disclose that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. If so, it will mark a milestone in Israel's campaign to alert the international community of the danger. In Israel, a public debate is now raging after the Yediot Ahronot and Haaretz newspapers disclosed that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak are pushing for an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. So how close could Israel be from going it alone against Iran? Analyst David Essing has this assessment.

What Israel has long known, before many Western nations, is that Iran is bent on building nuclear weapons. At long last, the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, may finally verify that Tehran is conducting a nuclear military project alongside its civil program. Obviously Israeli decision-makers are anticipating the IAEA's next report that is expected on November 8th; it could have an impact on Israel's moves in the near future. Threatened with annihilation by Tehran, it is fair to say there is a consensus in the Israeli government that Iran must not be allowed to acquire 'the bomb'. When Israeli leaders declare that 'all options are on the table' they mean it. Israel Air Force F-16 aircraft, refueling in the air, have just flown 2,000 kilometers to Sardinia to conduct a training exercise with Italy's Air Force. Two thousand miles eastwards would put the Israeli jets over Iran.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Likud Cabinet Minister Silvan Shalom spoke candidly about the current situation. He said: 'We cannot live with the idea that Iran will become a nuclear power'. As for an article in Haaretz that Netanyahu and Barak were seeking cabinet ministers' support for attacking Iran, Shalom replied: 'Israel is a democracy and no two leaders, no matter how imortant they are, can take such a decision on their own. That was the case, when the Begin cabinet voted to take out Saddam Hussien's nuclear reactor in 1981 and also applied to case of the Syrian nuclear facility'. If indeed the IAEA, after the departure of Egyptian director Muhammed Al Baradei, now exposes Iran's nuclear weapons program, Shalom hoped that Russia and China would drop their opposition to stiffer sanctions against Tehran. In his view, sanctions work; they have had an impact on Iran and tougher measures could possibly bring down the regime.

The Iranian Missile Range

In any event, they could force a halt to the nuclear weapons program and the ayatollahs' dream of rebuilding the great Persian Empire. This required their seizing control of the Middle East oil reserves on which the West is dependent for the next one hundred and fifty years. Shalom argued for giving a chance 'for one more round of Security Council sanctions on Iran' that might be imposed after the IAEA report. While the 'Arab Spring' in the Middle East has nudged the Iranian nuclear threat on to the back burner, the Iranians have been pressing forward. And it was not only President Ahmadenijad, but also Supreme Leader Ali Khamenie, who took the position that Tehran could 'contain' the current sanctions and move closer to achieving the goal of a nuclear arsenal.

The lesson of Libyia has cast an imprint on the Iranian regime; NATO was able to bomb Gadaffi's forces at will because the Libyian dictator was coerced by the U.S. into giving up his nuclear weapons program. Iran's leaders will conclude that they must not make the same mistake and must go nuclear. Once they acquire the bomb they will be invincible from the 'great Satan' and will pursue their goal of imposing their regional hegemony and control over the crucial Middle East oil reserves.

Binyamin Netanyahu (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Recently Iran caught the attention of European states by unveiling a ballistic missile with a range of 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers that placed their capitals, and not just Israel, in Iran's nuclear crosshairs. Obviously Israeli leaders are hoping this mounting European concern will be translated into action against Iran. In any case, the media conjecture over whether Israel may be close to going it alone may ramp up international support for the crippling sanctions that are required to bring Iran's nuclear program to a screeching halt. It remains to be seen whether President Obama's statement about more severe sanctions will sway the UN Secureity Council. But could all this straight talk in Israel and abroad be part of an Israeli conspiracy to galvanize international pressure against Iran? It's possible but ot probable. In Israel, the Opposition and media have been been hauling Netanyahu and Barak over the coals for reportedly going gung ho on attacking Iran, an operation that is fraught with danger.

Likud Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor has castigated Yediot Ahronot and Haaretz for their articles about government deliberations on Iran. He compared the 'unprecedented and irresponsible leaks' to the crime of former IDF soldier Anat Kamm, who has just been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for handing over some two-thousand IDF documents to an Israeli journalist.

But as Israeli decison - makers continue to scrutinize the Iranian nuclear file, there is always the factor of the unknown. Or in other words: 'We don't know what we don't know!' A case in point is the secret Fordo enrichment facility about 30 kilometers north of the holy city of Qom that was exposed in 2009. So Israeli decison-makers must also worry about whether the Iranians are advancing their nuclear weapons project in other clandestine installations while the 'Arab Spring' captures the headlines.

David Essing

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