TIME IS SHORT FOR IRAN DIPLOMACY
Wall Street Journal, Aug. 6, 2012
Nearly two decades ago, Israel started alerting the world about Iran’s nuclear program. But the world ignored our warnings, wasting 10 years until the secret nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz was exposed in 2002. Then eight more invaluable years were lost before much of the international community imposed serious sanctions on Iran.
Throughout that time, the ayatollahs systematically lied about their nuclear operations, installing more than 10,000 centrifuges, a significant number of them in a once-secret underground facility at Qom. Iran has blocked International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from visiting its nuclear sites, refused to answer questions about the military aspects of its program, and rejected all confidence-building measures. Iran has tested long-range missiles capable of reaching any city in the Middle East and, in the future, beyond.
Iran is also the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. It has supplied more than 70,000 rockets to terrorist organizations deployed on Israel’s borders and has tried to murder civilians across five continents and 25 countries, including in the United States. In July, Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists killed five Israeli tourists, among them a pregnant woman, in Bulgaria. Iran’s forces have attacked American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its agents are operating in Yemen, Africa and South America. By providing fighters and funds, Iran is enabling Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to massacre his own people.
Iran has done all this without nuclear weapons. With them, it can commit incalculable atrocities anywhere in the world, beginning with Israel. As the chief of staff of the Iranian military recently stated, “the Iranian nation stands for the full annihilation of Israel.” Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said “the annihilation of the Zionist regime is the key for solving the world problems.”
Accordingly, Israel believes that Iran is far from forfeiting its nuclear ambitions. Our conviction is based on Iran’s record of subterfuge and terror together with its genocidal rhetoric. It also reflects the inability of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (the “P5+1”) to negotiate a compromise with Iran.
In their first round of talks with Iranian officials, late in 2009, the P5+1 demanded the suspension of all enrichment activities in Iran and the transfer of its stockpiles, then enriched to 3.5%, abroad. Iran rejected those conditions and escalated its enrichment process to 20%, which can be enhanced to weapons-grade in a matter of weeks.
Iran now has amassed roughly 225 pounds of 20% uranium and 11,000 pounds of 3.5%, sufficient for almost five nuclear bombs. Rather than stand by its initial demands, however, the P5+1 is now seeking merely the cessation of Iran’s 20% enrichment, the removal of its 20% stockpile, and the closure of the facility at Qom. Arguably, this would be the first stage in the phasing out of Iran’s nuclear program. But Iran has rejected even this preliminary gesture.
Iran will continue to drag out the negotiations while installing more centrifuges. These, according to the IAEA, are spinning even faster. The sanctions, which have dealt a blow to Iran’s economy, have not affected the nuclear program. Meanwhile, more of Iran’s expanding stockpile will be hidden in fortified bunkers beyond Israel’s reach.
No country has a greater stake than Israel in using negotiations and economic pressure to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We appreciate the determination of President Obama and the U.S. Congress to advance the sanctions and their pledge to keep all options on the table.
At the same time, the president has affirmed Israel’s right “to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” and “to make its own decision about what is required to meet its security needs.” Historically, Israel has exercised that right only after exhausting all reasonable diplomatic means. But as the repeated attempts to negotiate with Iran have demonstrated, neither diplomacy nor sanctions has removed the threat.… (Mr. Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.)
TOUGH TIMES AHEAD FOR ISRAEL
American Thinker, August 5, 2012
It appears that Israel might be facing the toughest struggle yet in its history. There is Syria, a country possibly becoming a tribal state; Iraq, with a growing influence from al-Qaeda; Egypt, quite likely to become an Islamist regime; and the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezb’allah at Israel’s borders. Then there is Iran, a dangerous and murderous country which could soon possess a nuclear weapon. American Thinker interviewed some experts, asking them their opinion on the Israel-Iran crisis.
New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva, in his latest novel, The Fallen Angel, wrote, “There are some leaders who assure me that Israel can live with an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon. … But to someone who lived through the madness of the Second World War, they sound too much like those who said the Jews had nothing to fear from a Germany led by Hitler and the Nazis. … We ask only that you [Israel] proceed with the utmost caution, for your decisions will affect the entire world[.]”
Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, believes that Israel has a right to be concerned, since crunch time for Iran having a nuclear weapon will come in late 2013 or early 2014. He does not see the sanctions working and views all the options as bad. The problem with Iran today is that “[i]t is less stable and less predictable, which makes a lot of people concerned.
People are less comfortable now than during the Cold War, since with the Soviet case, there seemed to be more traditional curves and breaks in behavior, whereas with North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, the internal pathology of the states create behaviors that appear far less predictable and less susceptible to be influenced by other governments. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the Iranians will be able to get a nuclear weapon if they have the will.”
A nuclear Iran means a lose-lose situation for the world. Elliott Abrams, a former Middle East advisor to President George W. Bush, believes that a nuclear Iran will be a constant day-to-day threat, having a psychological impact on Israel. “If an Iranian official today makes frequent speeches about Israel being wiped off the map, it’s disgusting, yet we all know currently [that] they don’t have the ability to do it. How does an Iran that does have nuclear weapons behave? [It’s] something I hope to never find out.”
Hayden sees other consequences as well — namely, a more hostile, bold, and brazen Iran, since the Iranians will have as a defence a nuclear umbrella. He also feels that Iran’s nuclear capacity will show other second-rate powers that they can “stare down the international community with regard to nuclear weapons.” What will then transpire is a regional nuclear arms race, causing a destabilized world. The Saudis have already discussed a nuclear guarantee with Pakistan. In addition, Turkey and Egypt will also desire a nuclear weapon.
Obviously, Israel has to weigh the risks of acting or not acting. It faces a very tough target that is dispersed, distant, and numerous. Israel must consider the physical effects of any action compared to the political and diplomatic price. A former intelligence operative who worked in the region told American Thinker, “There is no doubt in my mind that Iran is going to complete its enrichment program. When it has the capacity to do so, the Iranians have made it very clear they will wipe Israel off the face of the earth. I don’t see that as rhetoric. Iran will have the missile capability to take out Israel.
The problem is that Iran has nuclear bunkers so deep in the soil [that] there is a good possibility of having to do a land invasion as well. Then there is the worry that other Arab countries in the Middle East will attack Israel. This regional conflict can then turn into a global conflict. As we look at history, typically big wars start with smaller actions.”
Abrams is not as pessimistic. He believes that the people of Iran hate their current leaders and are not anti-American or anti-Israeli. He wonders if there “is a tendency to underestimate the damage done with a strike on the Iranian nuclear program. Israel may be able to set it back by a number of years. I think defeat never helps a regime. A strike may lead to the demise of this Islamic Republic. The Iranian leaders will have to defend the position that they devoted untold billions of dollars, defied the world, and became a pariah — for what?”
All interviewed agree that the world, and the U.S. in particular, needs to make sure that Iran believes that military action is a definite consideration. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, noted that the Obama administration has to show in very concrete ways that the U.S. is serious regarding military engagement. He suggests aggressive joint exercises with Israel, as well as the movement of equipment to the region in a very public way.…
During the June Global Terrorism Conference, sponsored by the U.S., the Obama administration did not take a tough stand. According to Rabbi Marvin Hier, Israel was deliberately excluded, yet countries with a history of sponsoring radical Islamic ideology were invited. What is this telling Iran, the world’s largest state supporter of terrorism?
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairperson of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, cannot understand the snub, since “Israel, if any state, knows something about counter-terrorism. Yet that is the country that is not invited to participate in the conference.…This administration has not shown friends we are their allies and enemies that we are their adversaries.”
Abrams is disappointed but not surprised. His explanation for this rebuff is that the Obama administration caved to pressure and made a terrible mistake, “setting a precedent. What the U.S. should have done is take the position that the problem is with those hostile to Israel. They should be saying ‘we will never have these conferences if Israel is excluded, so get used to it, and let’s move forward.’…
The recent terrorist attack in Bulgaria by Iran has shown how the Iranians will act without nuclear weapons. This is a sad reminder of the nature of this regime. The Iranian leadership are willing to accept any amount of damage to their country to achieve the goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. Congressman Rogers summarized it best: “Israel’s challenge is now. They have to make a decision on what is best for their existence.
As one Israeli official recently told me, ‘we started this nation to say never again so we would not be put in a position that we were during the Holocaust. Maybe we have put all the Jews in one place to be easily annihilated with a nuclear weapon. We must not let that happen.’“
WHY ISRAEL COULD STRIKE IRAN BEFORE NOVEMBER
Front Page Mag, Aug 7th, 2012
If the Obama administration still vehemently opposes an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities for fear of hampering his chances for reelection, the latest Debka report reveals that Tehran is closer than ever to an atomic bomb. “The months of negotiations with the six world powers were happily used by Iran for great strides toward bringing its nuclear weapon program to fruition,” explains Debka, a publication close to Israeli intelligence agencies.
We knew that Tehran produced low-enriched uranium for four nuclear warheads in the fortified bunker in Fordo. We knew that the centrifuges are enriching uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent. But according to Debka, uranium enrichment levels have crept past 20 percent in expanded quantities.
“The six powers are understandably reluctant to admit that in the time bought by negotiations, Iran was able to refine uranium up to 30-percent grade or even a higher and go into advanced preparations for 65 percent grade enrichment. Now the Iranians are well on the way to an 80-90 percent weapons grade.” This is the weaponization of the nuclear cycle.
That’s why Israel could launch a preemptive operation against Iran before the US presidential election in November. Or as the former Israeli Mossad director, Ephraim Halevi, just commented to the New York Times, “if I were an Iranian I would be very worried in the next 12 weeks.” “The period before the US elections is the best for an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities,” Israel’s leading analyst Efraim Inbar, head of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and one of the informal advisors of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told me this week. “
The diplomatic talks failed, the sanctions are not working, only a military operation can stop Iran’s atomic program. We already stopped Iraq and Syria’s nuclear programs. We will take in consideration only our security and Jewish survival, because a nuclearized Iran would be an immense threat for the Jewish State.”
Inbar attacks the “bizzarre red line” of the Obama’s administration on Iran, which is an order by Iranian leadership to build a bomb. “If you wait so long the Iranian program would become immune to an attack,” says Inbar. He also criticizes Europe, which used the talks to stop an Israeli strike on Iran’s atomic program. “It’s even worse than Munich’s 1938, then Europe was willing to use the force, while today nobody wants to fight anymore.”
In Israel, Inbar explains, “nobody believes in the sanctions, while there are those, like the former Mossad’s head Meir Dagan, [who] believed that covert operations would have been better to abort the Iranian program. The Americans are now trying to be our babysitter, but the last decision will be taken in Jerusalem by Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The two Israeli leaders must now determine whether Israel can trust the recent US promise to thwart Iran’s atomic ambitions in case sanctions prove to be insufficient – or launch a unilateral Israeli attack on the Islamic Republic. In the first case, everything would be postponed to the next spring.
Otherwise, the sirens will wake up the Israelis one day in the next three months, [canned foods] will quickly disappear from the supermarkets, they will seal doors and windows and the Home Front Command will instruct them to enter into shelters. The rest will be history.
And if Iran gets the bomb? Norman Podhoretz, founding father of neo-conservatism and the ideological architect who inspired George W. Bush’s foreign policy, recently told me: “If Iran gets the bomb, the Israelis would have to decide whether to preempt or to retaliate from the rubble.”