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Barak Joins Dots on Mysterious Iranian Explosions

Defense Minister Ehud Barak: 'In Iran These Days Accidents Can Happen As Well As Other Things"

'Those Who Argue That We'll Know When Iran Makes Dash For Nuclear Weapons Ignore Possibility That Iranians Will Get The Bomb On The Sly & Then Become Immune From Intervention'

IsraCast Assessment: By Saying Sanctions Would Fail & Refusing To Say If Israel Was Involved In Mysterious Explosions, Barak Inferred That Israel Was Not Ready To Allow Iran To Secretly Develop The Bomb

Ehud Barak (Photo: Amit Shabi)

 For the second time in two weeks, a major explosion has severely damaged another Iranian nuclear facility. Who is behind these mysterious explosions, the assassination of nuclear experts, and the bugging of computers at centrifuge centers processing enriched uranium? Interviewed on the Voice of Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak assessed various aspects of the Iranian file shortly after Iranian rioters smashed their way into th British embassy in what was an obvious show of the Tehran regime's attitude to London. Analyst David Essing reads between the lines of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's guarded assessment of Israel's current approach to Iran's nuclear weapons program and what the rest of the world is or is not doing about it.

 Was Israel involved in the latest explosion at the uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan? This is obviously a closely guarded secret in the Jewish state and mum's the word by anyone in the know. Ehud Barak sidestepped the questions by responding enigmatically: 'In Iran, accidents happen and so do other things'; he did not elaborate. The week before, a huge blast crippled Iran's major missile site killing the founder of the missile project. When queried about that explosion, which the Iranians described as an accident, Barak retorted: 'Let there be more!'

While a number of Iran's nuclear experts have been assassinated in recent years and their strategic computers bugged, the explosions seemed to signal an escalation in what has all the trappings of a carefully orchestrated plan to stymie Iran's nuclear weapons project. In an interview with Israel Radio, Barak said he preferred not to discuss what Israel would not or should not do in light of a nuclear Iran. But in light of the fact that several former very senior Israeli intelligence officials had seen fit to publicly discuss the question, the Defense Minister was obligated to commented. He was referring to former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan and former IDF intelligence commander Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin. Both have said publicly there was still time to give international sanctions and diplomacy a chance, because Iran was still at least a year or more away from acquiring nuclear weapons. Yadlin, now retired, disclosed that Iran had enough low grade uranium for eventually producing four or five nuclear weapons. Recently, IsraCast quoted a senior IDF intelligence officer as saying that 'Iran now has a little less than 100 kilos of 20% enriched uranium...some 220 kilos of 90% enriched uranium is required to produce a nuclear weapon'.

Iranian Missiles

'Nuclear Iran would gain immunity'...

Barak took issue with those who contended there was still time to consider any drastic option against Iran because when Ahmadenijad decided to 'break out' and dash for the bomb, this would be detected and then last resort measures could be deliberated. The Defense Minister contended this was a false assumption because the Iranians were aware of this. Therefore they would do their utmost to produce a nuclear weapon in secrecy and present it to the world as a fait d'accompli and thereby gain immunity from international retaliation. This is what Pakistan and North Korea had succeeded in doing. Barak's apparent conclusion seemed to be that it was erroneous to conclude there would be a visible red line that Iran would have to cross on her way to producing nuclear weapons. Dagan had just told Channel 2 TV: 'Mahmoud Achmadenijad is sophisticated - I think the Iranians are sophisticated, smart and must not be underestimated. I assume that when they break out to the final stage they will face the international community's opposition and therefore I assume that we will have a reasonable warning in this time-frame and still have sufficient time to make a dramatic and extreme decision on taking military action'.

'Sanctions won't deter Iran'...

But what could be said for stiffer international sanctions? Barak was convinced there was no way that sanctions would deter Iran and the Defense Minister was later vindicated by the watered down measures taken by the European Union, even after the Tehran sent rioters to ramsack the British embassy. Most of those arrested have been released with Iranian officials quoted as saying: 'What could anyone expect after the Brits had so outraged the Iranian people!' But it's not only Russia and China. Many European governments are struggling to keep their heads above water in this winter of global economic woes. The European Foreign Ministers failed to adopt what is probably the only sanction that would really catch the Ayatollah's attention - an embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil, the backbone of Iran's economy.

The precarious Euro and the wobbly banking system barred the EU from further exaccerbating the situation at home by confronting Iran abroad. So the attempt in the EU to circumvent the Russian and Chinese veto in the UN Security Council fell through, as Barak predicted. Giving sanctions and diplomacy a chance had again failed to live up to its expectations. And this after an Iranian mob devastated the British embassy in Tehran, the Iranians plotted to assasinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and reports that Iran was plotting attacks against American Bases in Germany. That's just for starters. Iran has also been Syrian President Bashar Assad's most stalwart supporter in the brutal crackdown on his own people. And it goes without saying that Ahmadenijad is an old hand at this after rigging the Iranian election in 2009 and then launching a bloody suppression against democractic dissenters. It looks as if Ahmadenijad can keep laughing on the way to his nuclear weapons, if sanctions and diplomacy are the only thing standing in his way. Or does it?

'Israel is determined to prevent nuclear Iran...

Barak has declared that Israel is a 'sovereign state' with a government, IDF and security services ready to defend it. Moreover the Jewish state was not paralyzed by fear and would be ready to act to face challenges. And the bottom line was that a nuclear Iran was unacceptable. Reading between the lines, Barak seemed to be saying make no mistake- Israel will go it alone if need be. At the same time the Defense Minister told the Voice of Israel: 'We have no intention, at the moment, of taking action, but the state of Israel is far from being paralyzed by fear'. This and the recent IAEA report verifying Israel's long held estimate that the Iranians are bent of building nuclear weapons have apparently ruffled some feathers in Washington. When asked if Israel would give the U.S. an advance notice before taking on Iran, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replied: 'I don't know.' Demsey told Reuters that sanctions and diplomacy were the way to go, while no options would be taken off the table. However Dempsey was not sure the Israelis shared this U.S. assessment. Moreover they also saw an existential threat so it was fair to say that Israel's expectations were different than America's.

Then on Dec.2nd, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on Israel to drop any idea of launching a pre-emptive strike on Iran. He told the Saban Forum: 'The key is working together' while leaving the military option on the table. On the other hand, a military strike would only set Iran back by a year or two. It might lead to a backlash that would strengthen the regime adding: 'We might possibly be a target of retaliation from Iran that would stike U.S. ships and military bases'. The outcome would be a Middle East of confrontation and conflict. Panetta's panacea was a combination of economic and diplomatic sanctions that were having a 'serious impact'. However a senior IDF intelligence officer Brig. Gen Itay Brun has informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee that the current level of sanctions would not force Iran o halt her nuclear weapons program. Panetta's bottom line was that Iran would have to make a decision about whether they continue to be 'a pariah or whether they decide to join the international community'. This however is a total misreading of radical Islam which is the fanatical creed of Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and his ayatollah masters - their political goal is not to join the international community but to dominate it, once they acquire nuclear weapons. If they do, North Korea will look like a political pushover by comparison.

David Essing

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