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Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland: 'This Is World's Last Chance To Take Measures To Prevent Tehran From Getting The Bomb'

MK Shimon Peres: 'Israel Could Be Left On Her Own If She Takes Lead In Campaign To Block Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons'

Gen. (Res.) Ben Eliyahu: 'For Decades Israeli Military Has Been Preparing To Face Such A Threat Like Iranian Nuclear Weapons'

The Iranian Missile Range

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad captured headlines around the world when he declared that Tehran has started producing enriched uranium. Ahmadinejad told the Iranian people that scientists had produced 3.5% enriched uranium. This is a far cry from weapons grade uranium but it would only be a matter of time before the Ayatollahs would get their hands on the bomb. Israel says Iran could acquire nuclear weapons in three years if not stopped. Although Iranian leaders have talked about wiping Israel off the map, Jerusalem has reacted coolly to the latest development in the Iranian nuclear weapons drive.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst that appears to be Israel's approach to Iran's joining the nuclear club by starting to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

Israel's official reaction to Iranian president Ahmadinejad was to have none. Jerusalem is maintaining a low profile to the mounting nuclear threat from Iran. However, below the surface the Jewish state views with the utmost gravity Ahmadinejad's disclosure that Tehran has made up breakthrough on enriching uranium.

If true, it is only a matter of time before the Ayatollahs will get their hands on a nuclear weapon. They already have a delivery system, Shihab missiles that can target Israel and many European capitals. The IDF's intelligence chief Gen. Amos Yadlin has said that unless stopped, Iran could acquire the bomb within three years. The Israeli position is that Iran poses a dire threat not only to the Jewish state but to the entire world. Although Iran threatens to wipe Israel 'off the map', former Prime Minister Shimon Peres does not recommend that Jerusalem lead the effort to block the Iranians. Peres argued that although the Iranian threat was both worrying and infuriating for Israel, the US has put Iran at the top of its global concerns. And Peres adds: 'If we try to lead the current campaign against Iran we could be left on our own, and that would be a mistake'. Israel needed what he called 'strategic patience' and the matter should be left in American hands. Besides, Peres concluded: 'the Iranians are doing the job in the international arena by piling provocation upon provocation and mobilizing the world'.

IAF F-15

But what if the international effort fails to dissuade Tehran? Does Israel have a military option to destroy the Iranian nuclear threat? Gen. Eitan Ben-Eliyahu is a former Israeli Air Force commander who piloted one of the fighter bombers that demolished the Iraqi nuclear reactor Osirak in 1981. He says for decades the Israeli military has been preparing for such an existential threat to the Jewish state. But, he adds, the Iranian nuclear facilities are spread over numerous sites, and an attack would take several days, maybe even several weeks. Ben Eliyahu also recommended the International effort should be allowed to run its course. If Iran continues to flout it, the International situation will ripen for a military strike. Recently the former IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Yaalon stated that Israel does have the military capability to knock out the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Has Israel been surprised by the Iranian breakthrough? No, says Gen. Giora Eiland the head of the National Security Council. He said the Iranians were known to be working overtime for the past two months to reach the level they apparently have. But he adds there is a difference between taking a step forward and presenting it as if it's too late to try and stop the Iranians because they have already solved the problems in producing nuclear weapons. Eiland explains that Ahmadinejad has painted an exaggerated picture of Iran's progress to deflate the International effort.

Could Iran also be running a more advanced nuclear weapons program in secret? Gen. Eiland says it's possible, and the assessment is that they are. Their 'civilian' program came under strict international monitoring until two months ago. However it is unlikely the Iranians have succeeded in producing weapons grade uranium. In his view, the crisis has reached the crossroad, with two possibilities. What the Iranians want in contrast to the goals of the International community? The Iranians want to create the impression that it's useless to try and stop them because they have already overcome the technological obstacles and it's only a matter of time until they get the bomb. On the other hand 'Israel hopes the world that has adopted a wishy-washy stand, will now take firm measures before April 28th, the time allotted for Iran to halt it's nuclear activity'. Eiland believes the latest Iranian defiance leaves the UN no alternative. He says the UN decisions do not need to be military at this stage; There is diplomatic and economic pressure that has not yet been exerted on Tehran. It would be a very dangerous step, he adds, if the International community refrains from acting now. Eiland puts it this way: 'the Iranian announcement tells the world that this is its last chance to take effective measure'.

David Essing

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