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IDF INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Maj. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash: 'Israel Must Assume That Iran Would Use Nuclear Weapons Against Israel'

'Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Will Not Risk Armed Conflict With Hamas & Islamic Jihad'

'Syria's President Bashar Assad Could Halt Infiltrations Across His Border Into Iraq, If He Wanted To'

Aharon Zeevi-Farkash

The Chief of IDF Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash has warned that Iran's nuclear weapons program is a threat to Europe no less than it is to Israel. In an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv, the intelligence official also said Israel should not rule out a military option, if the diplomatic approach fails to deter Tehran from continuing its clandestine program to produce nuclear weapons. As for the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas will back down rather than face a military confrontation with the terror groups that defy his authority. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash believes it is only a matter of time before the U.S. attacks Syria, if President Bashar Assad continues to allow the flow of guerrillas and explosives across the Syrian border into Iraq.

Iran's long range cruise missiles

'Israel must assume that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon it will drop it on the Jewish state'. That's the assessment of Maj. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash, the chief of military intelligence, in an interview with the Israeli daily Maariv. Missile launchers, displayed in Iranian military parades that are carried on Iranian TV, bear English inscriptions 'To Destroy Israel'. Iran is the only state in the world that calls for the annihilation of another state and Tehran is striving to acquire nuclear weapons. And he added: 'Maybe at the outset they will not drop 'the bomb' on Israel, but to be all the time under the threat if something happens or if the Iranians are not pleased about something, then we'll be their target!' Therefore, Israel must draw the conclusion that such a regime when it has the bomb will use it. The intelligence chief disclosed that he has met with European prime ministers and cabinet ministers. He told them that the connection between the missiles with a range of 5,000 kilometers which Iran is developing and a nuclear military capability means that Europe will also be living in a totally different world. The Iranians are not developing such missiles for Israel because Israel is already within range of their operational Shihab 3 missile (range of 1,300 kilometers). The Iranians were developing 5,000-kilometer ballistic missiles to target Europe.The diplomatic effort by Germany, France and England, have succeeded in setting back Iran's nuclear program by two or three years, possibly more. Gen Zeevi-Farkash calls this an impressive achievement for the so-called E-3, although they have not halted it.

The intelligence chief was asked whether the campaign against Iran might be based on false information such as in the case of Iraq. He replied that Israel has intelligence data indicating Iran is conducting a clandestine nuclear military program that it is determined to advance. This was a threat to the entire free world especially to Israel and Europe. Zeevi-Farkash referred to a recent case in point. There was an instillation near Tehran called Lovizan. In the fall of 2003, inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency got wind that it was linked to the secret nuclear program and asked to see it. There were laboratories and very sensitive installations that could be observed in aerial photographs. The Iranians replied:' No problem, come in the beginning of the new year'. But when the inspectors went to tour the site they didn't find a thing. The entire installation had been wiped off the face of the earth. Moreover, the Iranians had plowed up two meters of the ground because sometimes samples of earth can reveal the level of radiation and uranium enrichment. The inspectors did not find anything because the Iranians had moved the entire installation to another site.Question: Did the intelligence officer see an option of a future attack on Iran's secret nuclear sites?'I think that we should start on the diplomatic and global front. This involves international institutions, economic sanctions, the isolation of Iran, and then only at the end of this process, if there is no alternative, other things will have to be done'.Question: ' In your view is this an option?' It's not for me to decide such things. However, I do not think that it should be ruled out'.

Mahmoud Abbas

In the Palestinian arena, there were 'ups and downs' in the confrontation between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups. Abbas could do more to rein in terrorism but this was a result of pressure. As the Palestinian elections in January draw near, Abbas will realize more and more that he must take a more determined stance against the terrorists because the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is at stake. It appeared headed for a dual outcome; two main bodies would lead the PA, not one: Fatah and Hamas. The question of their respective strength was now being determined. In any case, the intelligence chief did not believe Mahmoud Abbas would throw in the towel.Question: 'What is Abbas's red line?' Zeevi-Farkash said Abbas would not engage in an armed conflict with the terror groups; the Palestinian leader has said as much. In the Palestinian Authority the life of Abbas could be in danger and therefore he would back away from any military clash with the terrorists. This was something Israel had to take into consideration.

Syria: President Bashar Assad claims his border with Iraq runs for 600 kilometers and it's impossible to seal it and prevent guerillas joining the conflict again coalition forces inside Iraq. The Israeli intelligence officer retorts: 'If the Syrians want to seal their border, they seal it'. This was the case with Syria's borders with Turkey, Jordan and also Lebanon. Assad does not close off his Iraqi border hermetically instead he enables the smuggling of explosive charges made in Lebanon into Iraq. Assad is facing a double bind. The Islamist terrorists are signaling him that if he seals his border with Iraq tightly as the U.S. demands, then the terrorists will put him in their crosshairs. The Syrian leader must make a choice. If Assad closes off the border totally, he will face an internal Jihad and Islamist terrorism. However, a refusal may result in an American attack on Syria. An American-British operation was possible if Assad does not seal the Iraqi border. Gen. Zeevi-Farkash did not think the Americans would acquiesce indefinitely to the infiltrations from Syria into Iraq.

David Essing

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