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Israel is Not Czechoslovakia

Cabinet Minister Moshe Yaalon: 'In Last Three Months Iran Has Accelerated Its Uranium Enrichment By 700 Kilos... Under No Condition Will Israel Allow An Iranian Nuclear Sword To Reach Its Throat!'

'Israel Monitors Iran's Nuclear Program On Day By Day Basis... Iranians Believe U.S. Will Not Act Decisively In Election Year & Will Also Restrain Israel From Attacking'

'Israel Is Not Czechoslovakia & Could Reach A Point Where It Concludes That No One Is Really Doing Anything To Stop Iran & Must Attack'

 'Israel is not Czechoslovakia' - that statement came from Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon amid the current nuclear talks with Iran. Interviewed by the Israeli daily Haaretz, Yaalon disclosed that despite the international effort to rein in Iran's nuclear weapons program, Tehran has actually been accelerating its uranium enrichment. At the same time, Yaalon said Israel has not yet reached the point that it has to decide whether to bomb and the international community could still act 'forcefully and with determination' against Iran. But if the question arose about whether Israel should accept an Iranian A-bomb or to bomb - the answer would be to bomb. Analyst David Essing is of the view that Yaalon has revealed some key intelligence to dispel some of the diplomatic fog surrounding the nuclear talks being conducted with Iran by the P5+1 and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Moshe Yaalon (Photo: Debbi Cooper)

 Iran Accelerating Uranium Enrichment...

While the nuclear negotiators convene in various capitals - Iran has actually been accelerating its enriched uranium. Yaalon disclosed that every day, Iran produces another 8 kilos of enriched uranium. In the past three months alone, their 10,000 centrifuges at Natanz and Qom produced another 700 kilos while the Iranians continue to stonewall. The Israeli estimate is the Iranians have enough enriched uranium that could produce five A- bombs. They could upgrade to 90% weapons grade uranium within two or three months, if the decision were taken. Within half a year, Iran could produce one 'dirty bomb' - a primitive nuclear weapon. As for a delivery system, the Iranians now have a fleet of 400 missiles that can reach Israel and some European capitals. On this score, there was still time for the international community to 'act forcefully and with determination'.

Iranians Believe U.S. Is Bluffing...

But the problem is the Iranians do not feel they are under real pressure. First they reckon the West is very sensitive about a rise in oil prices and therefore will shy away from a confrontation. The fact this is an election year in the U.S. reinforces their assumption that nothing will happen before next November. Their conclusion is the sanctions will be applied very cautiously and an American military option is not in the cards. Moreover they are convinced that Washington will bar Israel from going it alone. ( DE- if Yaalon's assessment is correct look for the Iranians to keep thumbing their noses in the next rounds of nuclear talks).

The Iranian Missile Range

Better To Bomb Than Be Nuked...

In a broader context, Yaalon surmised that national leaders have a natural tendency to shy away from dangerous decisions. If possible they prefer to postpone such decisions to next month, next year or the next term of office. Better still, leave it for the next leader. ( In Obama's case, decisive action against Iran could affect his re-election prospects-DE). But Yaalon contends this attitude can lead Western leaders adopt a policy of appeasement and he referred to Winston Churchill's description of the appeaser, who keeps feeding others to the alligator in the hope the alligator will eat him last. This analogy applied to the West's decision-making today and it resembled 1938. But Yaalon stressed that Israel was not Czechoslovakia.

Israel had no illusions about appeasing the Iranian ideology that seeks to achieve regional hegemony and control of the West's oil supplies from the Persian Gulf. In his estimate, the situation could develop that would convince the Israeli leadership that no one was really doing what was needed to stop Iran. Then the question would be 'accept an Iranian A-bomb or to bomb - the answer would be to bomb'. Yaalon, a former IDF Chief of Staff, qualified his statement by saying he was neither a hawk nor a dove and Israel should attack Iran only as a last resort. It would not be easy or simple - Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip could be expected to launch thousands of missiles and rockets at Israel. While the probability was low that Syria would join the fray this had to be taken into account. But when Yaalon compared a preventative strike to the option of a nuclear Iran there was no doubt in his mind: ' It was better to pay the heavy price of a conventional war than to acquiesce in Iran's acquiring nuclear weapons'. (Yaalon was not speaking officially for the government but all the indications are this is the prevailing position in the Israeli cabinet-DE).

Dirty Bomb In Port Of New York, London Or Haifa?

Iranian missiles (photo: MEHR)

Israel and the U.S. saw eye to eye on the need to prevent Iran going nuclear and while there was agreement on intelligence information and 'close cooperation', there were differences over the red line. America perceived the red line as an instruction from Supreme Leader Ali Khameini to produce nuclear weapons. However Israel viewed the redline as Iran's acquiring the very capacity to go nuclear. This meant that Washington would accept Iran becoming a ' threshold nuclear power ' as long as it refrains from producing the bomb. state'. But Israel contended there was no certainty that Khameini's order to go nuclear could be intercepted in time to prevent Iran from doing so. Geography also played a role in how Israel and the U.S. perceived the threat - obviously for Israel it was existential. Iran could also act by supplying a 'dirty bomb' to a terror organization that could smuggle it into the port of New York, the port of London or the port of Haifa.

Nuclear Iran Not Nuclear Soviet Union...

Yaalon also took issue with the school that argued that Iran could be contained the way the former Soviet Union was in its confrontation with the U.S. during the Cold War. In his view: Iran does not resemble the former Soviet Union in any way. Nor do they resemble even Pakistan or North Korea. If Iran acquires a nuclear umbrella there is no possibility of knowing how they will act. This was a messianic, Islamist regime that really believes it has a mission to Islamize the world. As for a nuclear strike uniting the Iranian people behind the regime, Yaalon contended the contrary was true; seventy percent of Iranians would be happy to get rid of the regime they despise.

We are not bluffing...

What does it boil down to? In the current nuclear negotiations, Iran has indicated that it has no intention of making any concessions that could hamper its nuclear weapons program. In fact, they appear to have have been working overtime to sanitize their Parchin weapons site where the IAEA suspects nuclear research has been conducted. For its part, although not participating in the current nuclear diplomacy Israel is a silent partner. Netanyahu has succeeded in galvanizing the international community in a new effort to try and stop Iran, however it remains to be seen whether it will really get serious. Iran has disclosed that the Iranians believe the U.S. is bluffing and that is why it has actually accelerated its nuclear program recently. In the Hebrew interview, Yaalon said in English: 'We are not bluffing'.

David Essing

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