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ELBARADEI - AHMADINEJAD COLLABORATOR?

Cabinet Minister Shaul Mofaz: 'U.N. Nuclear Watchdog ElBaradei Is Paving Way For Iran Acquiring The Bomb'

'ElBaradei Should Be Replaced Due To His Irresponsible Policy'

Mohamed ElBaradei

Israel is ringing alarm bells after President Ahamadinejad declared that Iran is now operating 3,000 centrifuges - experts say they could produce enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb annually. IsraCast says Israel has now taken of the gloves in a last ditch effort to generate international sanctions that could still deter Tehran from getting the bomb. Jerusalem now views Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei as the main obstacle.

Shaul Mofaz

Israel is ringing the alarm bells. Interviewed in Washington Cabinet Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former IDF chief of staff said: 'There is a need to replace Mohamed ElBaradei because his policy is threatening world peace, I repeat, ElBaradei is threatening world peace. He is bearing his head in the sand.' Asked by Israel radio if ElBaradei was actually collaborating with Ahmadinejad Mofaz replied that intelligence services of several countries are aware of Iran's nuclear weapons goals and this evidence is on ElBaradei's desk.

Mofaz went on to say that ElBaradei, an Egyptian, is turning a blind eye to this evidence and was 'irresponsible'. Earlier this week the director general of Israel's foreign ministry also spoke publicly about ElBaradei apparent refusal to present the UN Security Council with a frank and objective assessment.

Until now, Israeli officials have been careful not to criticize ElBaradei personally. They have contended that Iran's nuclear weapons will pose a threat not only to Israel but to the international community as a whole. But Mofaz has now charged that ElBaradei is actually paving the way for Ahmadinejad getting his hand on nuclear weapons after the Iranian leader warned of wiping Israel off the map.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

A senior IDF intelligence officer brigadier general Yossi Baidatz also revealed this week that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons in another two years or so. The Israeli assessment is that time is fast running out. ElBaradei is about to present another of his reports to UN Security Council. Israeli officials are apparently concerned that it will be another watered-down account, the result will be that Russia, China and other nations will use it as an excuse for not imposing the harsh sanctions that may still have a chance stopping Ahmadinejad.

Israeli experts still believe that stiffer sanctions will succeed. They argue that the weaker sanctions have already had an impact on Iran. Their assessment is that Ahmadinejad is trying to create the impression that Iran has already joined the nuclear club - that it's game over. But Israeli intelligence which is closely monitoring the situation says that it's still not the case, that Iran is still farther away from the bomb than it pretends to be. However this coming year will be critical.

Iranian Missiles

Oil rich Iran, imports some 50% of its gasoline, and if this was cut off it could still detour the regime from continuing in its nuclear weapons programs. Politically, US president George W. Bush has just over a year to go before he leaves office. It is very unlikely that the new US administration will be in a position to act militarily against Iran before it acquires nuclear weapons. Therefore it appears that Israel had launched an 11th hour campaign to rally international diplomacy to stop Iran's nuclear weapons drive.

The US, France and Britain are on board but will they succeed? President Bush has added urgency by now declaring that an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel could trigger world war III.

How is the Israeli public reacting to these latest developments? The Iranian nuclear threat has been a fact of life for Israelis for several years now and they have taken the latest revelations in stride.

Question: are the latest Bush statements, statements in support of Israel, an insurance policy for the Jewish state?

Labor Knesset member Efraim Sneh, the former deputy defense minister replies: 'not even the US is Israel's insurance policy, the Israeli defense forces and the intelligence services are. We respect Bush's statement and his determination but this is a life and death question for us'. 

David Essing

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