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Israel Can't Wait for Next U.S. President

Senior Israeli Official: 'We Can't Wake Up One Morning & Find Americans Have Done Nothing & Iran Has Nuclear Weapons'

'There is No Way Of Knowing What Barack Obama Will Do While Mitt Romney Won't Attack Iran In His First Year In Office'

'Ronald Reagan Did Not Want Pakistan To Get the A-Bomb & Bill Clinton Opposed North Korea, But Both Countries Now Have Nuclear Weapons'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Photo: Amit Shabi)

 A senior Israeli official (apparently Defense Minister Ehud Barak) has indicated that he has given up on the U.S. halting Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In an in-depth interview with Haaretz, the official said Israel can no longer rely on a U.S. president, be it Obama or Romney, to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The official also said: 'If we wait until next spring, Iran will have enough enriched uranium to produce its first nuclear weapon'. The official was depicetd as a controversial decision-maker, at the heart of Israeli security issues for some fifty years and who has unique strategic experience. There was also the tell-tale grand piano in his home where the interview took place. (Barak plays classical music). Analyst David Essing said the official was sending a message not only to the U.S., but also to the Israeli people and possibly to the IDF top brass, some of whose commanders are reportedly opposed to going it alone against Iran.

 Is it game over?

It sounded as if it's game over for Defense Minister Ehud Barak; Israel cannot count on either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, to block Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. The only rational option was for Israel to carry out an air strike on Iran's nuclear weapons sites. This week's reports that Iran has made 'significant nuclear progress in the past four months' have obviously lent a greater sense of urgency. The U.S. intelligence community has conveyed its latest assessment to the White House. On this score, the official said the U.S. and Israel had the 'same diagnosis' when it came to Tehran's drive for the A-Bomb. However the two countries differed on what to do about it. President Obama is still sticking to the sanctions and nuclear talks with Iran. But it can be said that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Barak reject the notion that sanctions will ever do the trick. For their perspectived vantage point, four major players Russia, China, India and Turkey have gutted any chance for the sanctions gambit. In effect, Obama and the Ayatollahs have a common interest in playing for time until after the November presidential election.

But what of the possibility that a re-elected Obama might resort to military action, if all else failed. The Israeli official said this was a big 'if' that Israel could not rely upon. In his words: 'We can't wake up one morning to find the Americans have done nothing and the Iranians have nuclear weapons'. He noted that two prestigious U.S. presidents, Ronald Reagen and Bill Clinton, had opposed Pakistan and North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons and both leaders had struck out. Israel would never agree to abdicate its right of self-defense to any other country, no matter how friendly.

Iranian Nuclear Reactor

There was also a major difference on how long Israel could wait as compared with the U.S. With its limited fire-power, Israel might soon lose any chance of attacking because the Iranians were continually reinforcing their underground installations. On the other hand the Americans, with their new bunker-busters and cruise missiles, could wait much longer to deliver 'a knockout whereas Israel would only be able to give Iran a black eye'.

If we wait until next spring......

The official said that five years ago, the Iranians had a stockpile of 800 kilograms of enriched uranium. Today they have amassed more than six and a half tons. And he concluded: 'If we wait until next spring, they will have enough enriched uranium of 20% to produce their first nuclear weapon'. Nor was Israel ready to accept Iran becoming a threshold nuclear state, such as Germany or Japan, saying that this would enable Tehran to break out and acquire the A- Bomb in a short time.

Obama or Romney?

Nor did it matter who won the U.S. presidential election in November. Obama would go far beyond Barak's 'zone of immunity for Iran', whereas history taught that 'a new president would not take severe action unless the U.S. was attacked by an enemy'. So neither candidate would pull Israel's chestnuts out of the fire. At the same time, the hour was late but under no condition would Israel try to deliberately drag the U.S. into a war. In the official's words: 'If we decide on an operation it must be justifiable in itself. It cannot be based on the supposition that it will ignite a major chain reaction. A state cannot go to war when a condition for success is the hope tht another state will join it. This would be a an irresponsible gamble'.

Iranian sword at Israel's throat ...

The official's analogy of Israel's current plight was particularly telling: 'The sword at Israel's throat today is is much sharper than the sword placed at her throat before the Six Day War (in 1967)'. In that crisis, the massed Arab armies were deployed on Israel's borders threatening 'to throw the Jews into the sea'. The then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson told Foreign Minister Abba Eban that President Dwight Eisenhower's written commitment to come to Israel's aid did not obligate him and that a diplomatic solution was the answer. In other words, Israel was on her own. Note also that former Mossad director Meir Dagan, who has voiced his opposition to a solo Israeli strike unless: 'The sword has started cutting into the flesh of our throats!' The Israeli official has indicated that it now is.

ISRAELI OPPOSITION TO SOLO STRIKE

IDF Maj.Gen.(res.) Yisrael Ziv warns that an Israeli attack on Iran could draw Israel into an all-out regional war because without U.S. and European aid, the IDF would find it difficult to cope with an ongoing confrontation. The result of such a war could be to Iran's advantage in both the short and long terms. Ziv, a former chief of IDF Operations Branch, also criticized what he called the 'media campaign' being conducted by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak in advance of an attack on Iran. Interviewed on Israel Radio, the general said this campaign reflected weakness rather than confident leadership. In addition, it also harmed relations with the U.S., insulted Israel's security chiefs and restricted Israel's freedom of action.

Labor party leader Shelli Yechimovich also blasted Netanyahu and Barak. In her opinion, the voices emanating from the offices of the prime minister and the defense minister were very worrying. While Yechimovich agreed that it was the perogative of the political leadership to decide, but when the heads of the security branches, both past and present, opposed an Israeli strike under the current circumstances, the refusal to pay heed bordered on irresponsibility. Moreover the making of a nuclear Iran Israel's exclusive problem was a strategic mistake. A no less serious error was Israel's confrontation with the Obama administration over Iran. On the other hand, it was no secret that all options were on the table. In light of this Yechimovich concluded: 'This is not the time for Israel to choose the most dangerous option when the results were not at all certain'.

David Essing

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