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Israel, Iran & IAEA

In Israel, Mum's The Word After Latest IAEA Report Exposes Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program

Prime Minister Netanyahu Signals That Time For Words Is Over - It's Now Time For International Community To Get Serious About Iranian Nuclear Threat

IsraCast Assessment: Israel Will Wait & See If UN Security Council Will Finally Decide On Decisive Sanctions Against Iran Or Continue To Jaw-Jaw In Face Of Damning Indictment

 It now boils down to what the international community now decides to do, or not to do, after the latest IAEA report has exposed Iran's duplicitous drive for nuclear weapons. The result will affect Israel's course of action in the foreseeable future. After years of self - denial and U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of engagement and dialogue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one undeniable fact has emerged. There is no prospect that Iran will give up her nuclear weapons program unless and until crippling sanctions are imposed. Jerusalem seems to be signaling the Western world 'It's your call' and Israel will decide on what she will or will not do according to the answer.

 The 'smoking gun' for Iran's nuclear weapons project has now been exposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency's report of November 8th. For the first time, the UN's nuclear watchdog has expressed its 'serious concerns' over the undeniable indicators that Iran has been secretly developing nucler weapons. It came as no surprise to Israel, which Tehran has repeatedly threatened to 'wipe off the map'. The Israeli government will now be waiting to see if the international community, including Russia and China, will finally agree to impose the crippling sanctions that will force the fanatical Iranian regime to halt its drive to acquire the bomb. If not, Israeli leaders have made clear they will do what it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (photo: U.S. State Department)

The IAEA report is a 'game changer' not only for Israel, but also for the Middle East and the entire world. There now can be no doubt the Islamist regime in Tehran has been developing nuclear weapons for years. So far, everything has failed to deter Iran that is moving full steam ahead to acquire the bomb. Not only would Israel be in Iran' nuclear cross-hairs but also Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf states with their massive oil resources on which the Western world is so dependent. Therefore, the IAEA findings have sent shock waves throughout the entire region and in the corridors of power around the globe. The Sunni Arab states as well as Israel will now be looking to the UN Security Council, to see if the international community will finally impose a fifth and crippling set of sanctions on Iran that will force a halt to its nuclear weapons development. Time is of the essence. The Iranians have enough 20% enriched uranium that could be upgraded to 95% weapons grade. They also have ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and various European capitals. Their key problem is in the sphere of weaponization - building a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a missile. Israeli expert Uzi Eilam told Channel 1 that an uranium fueled nuclear weapon is very large and extremely difficult to install on a missile. In his opinion, the Iranians will opt for the plutonium warhead. Work on it may be planned for the Fordo underground site near the holy city of Qom.

In reaction, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad lashed out at Yukiya Amano, the new IAEA, calling him an American puppit. Ahmadenijad and senior military officers warned that Israel would be scorched off the earth if she even considered attacking Iran. Earlier in the day, Defense Minister Ehud |Barak was asked about the Iranian threats of retaliation. 'Grossly exaggerated' he responded; a worried Knesset member had asked him if fifty-thousand Israelis might be killed if Israel launched an attack on Iran's nuclear targets. Barak scoffed at the dire prediction saying: 'Not fifty-thousand, not five-thousand and not even five-hundred, if Israelis go into their bomb shelters when instructed. And he added: 'If there is a grave threat to Israel and a major crisis there would be a need to take risks - that is what a crisis dictates'. The Defense Minister repeated Israel's long standing position that all options were on the table to bar Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Iranian Missile Range

Maj.Gen. (res.), Eitan Ben Eliyahu a former Israel Air force commander said only a fool would now doubt that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. The question was when they might decide to 'break out' into the last stage that they could possibly complete in a relatively short time span. But the fighter pilot, who participated in the Israeli air strike that destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981, added this statement: 'Although the Iranians have been working for years on their military progam, Israel had not been sitting on her hands or resting on her laurels. There is no comparison with our capabilities today and that of the nineties' (when Iran started its nuclear weapons project). The former Air Force commander referred to what he called Israel's 'full spectrum of possibilities'. In his view, the IAEA report and the current nuclear dialogue in Israel recalled the days of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. U.S. President John Kennedy had raised America's military preparedness on all fronts and imposed a naval blockade of Cuba. Tose measures eventually led to peaceful resolution of the crisis. Ben Eliyahu hoped that a combined operation comprised of international diplomatic pressure and the military threat might now deter Tehran.

Russia & China: These two countries, which have consistently vetoed stiffer UN sanctions on Iran, will now be in the limelight. The case of Russia is particularly vexing. The |Russians have played a key role in Iran's nuclear development by building the nuclear reactor at Bushehr that went operational last summer. True this is indeed a peaceful nuclear facility but the Russian training of Iranian nuclear scientists has been a major contribution to Tehran's overall nuclear advancement. There is no separate nuclear physics for peaceful and military purposes although the technology is different. Back in the nineties, before the news of the Russian involvement was made public, a senior IDF intelligence officer revealed to a closed door gathering: 'Those bastards the Russians are going to build a nuclear reactor for the Ayatollahs! Where do they think all that know-how is going to end up?' Well the IAEA has now given its official answer.

And after blocking previous diplomatic measures to stop Iran, Russian leaders Putin, Medvedev and Levrov have been preaching to Israel that a military strike on Iran was out of the question. In their view, war was legal only as an act of self-defense or if authorized by the UN Security Council. How conveniently the Russians have forgotten their recent war on tiny Georgia. Moreover a Russian scientist is said to be involved in Iran's nuclear weapons project. Unless Russia now supports severe sanctions she will be inviting Israel to play Russian roulette for her survival with Iranian Islamist fanatics.

IAEA under new management: What is now clear is that Japan's Yukiya Amano, the new IAEA director has chosen to disclose all the facts as opposed to his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt. Israeli officials had long suspected ElBaradei, the IAEA boss from 1997 - 2009, of covering up the mounting evidence that Iran was trying to dupe the world. ElBaradei contended there was no credible evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons, a position that was seized upon by many states and international companies eager to do business with Tehran. Ironically, ElBaradei was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his 'achievements' at the IAEA. However although Israel has been vindicated for her concern over the years, sometimes at odds even with the American intelligence community, Prime Minister Netanyahu's has initially instructed his cabinet ministers that 'mums the word'. Rather than gloat over 'We told you so' Israel's decision makers will now be waiting to see whether U.S. President Barak Obama will succeed in galvanizing international support for his declared goal of more severe sanctions against Iran.

If past experience is anything to go by, Obama's prospects do not look promising. Russia has already criticized Amano for publishing such a damning report, charging that it will hamper the diplomatic effort. Is there no limit to diplomatic duplicity? Does anyone after Obama's abysmal failure of engagement with Tehran really believe is interested in a diplomatic solution? What's to be done? Defense Minister Barak has indicated that future sanctions should include a naval blockade to cripple Iran's crucial oil industry. However Barak has said he was not optimistic because over the years most countries actually knew about Iran's nuclear weapons project, although they deigned to turn a blind eye and follow ElBaradei's lead at the IAEA. Israel will wait and see. If the international community, in the face of the official IAEA report, still dilly-dallies and refuses to get serious about Iran, then the Israeli government will have to decide whether to go it alone, if the rest of the world, including President Barack Obama, is ready to sit back and let Iran acquire nuclear weapons with all that implies for Israel, the Middle East and yes, the rest of the international community.

The bottom line: The saga of Iran's nuclear weapons program has reached a new plateau - the era of deceit by Iran and self-denial by the international community has hit a dead end. Israel will apparently serve notice that what the international community now decides to do will have a decisive bearing on her stand that Iran must not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran may be only months away from reaching the nuclear point of no return, this may be the last chance for U.S. President Barack Obama to engage the international community for a diplomatic solution. One that is not based on empty rhetoric and wishful thinking but on the hard facts and effective action. 

David Essing

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