Report on Iran Nuclear Work Puts Israel in a Box

For Prime Minister Netanyahu, the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday offered findings validating his longstanding position that while harsh economic sanctions+diplomatic isolation may have hurt Iran, they have failed to slow Tehran’s nuclear program. If anything, the program is speeding up. But the agency’s report has also put Israel in a corner, documenting that Iran is close to crossing what Israel has long said is its red line: capability to produce nuclear weapons in a location invulnerable to Israeli attack. With report that the country has already installed more than 2,100 centrifuges inside a virtually impenetrable underground laboratory, it has ramped up production of nuclear fuel, officials and experts here say the conclusions may force Israel to strike Iran or concede it is not prepared to act on its own. Whether that leads to a change in strategy, or a unilateral attack, is something that even Israel’s inner circle cannot yet agree on, despite what seems to be a consensus that Iran’s program may soon be beyond the reach of Israel’s military capability. “It leaves us at this dead end”, said a senior government official here, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is involved in the decision-making process. “The more time elapses with no change on the ground in terms of Iranian policies, the more it becomes a zero-sum game.” The report accentuates tension with Washington during the hot-tempered atmosphere of a presidential election. Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu often say they have a common assessment of intelligence about Iran’s progress. What they do not agree on is the time available. American officials have repeatedly tried to assure Israelis that they have the country’s back, and to remind them that Israel does not have the ability, by itself, to destroy the facility, built beneath a mountain outside Qum. United States does have weaponry that it believes can demolish the lab, but in Mr. Obama’s judgment there is still what the White House calls “time and space” for diplomacy, sanctions and sabotage, a combination the Israelis say has been insufficient. “They can’t do it right without us,” a former adviser to Obama said recently. “And we’re trying to persuade them that a strike that just drives the program more underground isn’t a solution; it’s a bigger problem.” The report comes at a critical time in Israel’s long campaign to build Western support for stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which virtually every leader here regards as an existential threat. Military professionals concede that the potential effectiveness of a Israeli strike is decreasing as Iran moves more of its operations underground. (Already, the best Israel might be able to accomplish, is to close the tunnel entrances around the underground plant, called Fordow, rather than destroy what is inside.) Politically, the Israeli leaders are concerned they will lose leverage after November presidential election, regardless of the result, but are also worried about a pre-election strike that angers Washington, whose support would be all the more critical in its aftermath (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/world/middleeast/report-on-iran-nuclear-work-puts-israel-in-a-box.html

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Consultor Internacional

3 Responses to Report on Iran Nuclear Work Puts Israel in a Box

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Netanyahu has a golden opportunity. He can silence his critics, once and for all, by destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities without any help from the US.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/world/middleeast/report-on-iran-nuclear-work-puts-israel-in-a-box.html

  2. The 120-nation Nonaligned Movement handed its host Iran a diplomatic victory on Friday, unanimously decreeing support for the disputed Iranian nuclear energy program and criticizing the American-led attempt to isolate and punish Iran with unilateral economic sanctions. But the group’s communiqué, issued by Iranian state news media at the end of its annual meeting, omitted any mention of support for Syria, Iran’s vital Middle East ally, which appeared to reflect a view among many members that the Syrian government’s attempt to crush the uprising there was indefensible. The conspicuous omission of Syria from the document, called the Tehran Declaration, followed a dramatic day of maneuvering by Iran’s delegation to secure some kind of support for Syria’s government, diplomats said, as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his aides were criticizing foreign backing of the Syrian insurgency. Nonetheless for Iran, the final result of the Nonaligned Movement’s meeting, the biggest international gathering in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, amounted to the strongest expression of support for Iran’s nuclear energy rights in its showdown with the West. The unanimous backing of the final document undercut the American argument that Iran was an isolated outlier nation. The Tehran Declaration document not only emphasizes Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy but acknowledges the right to ownership of a full nuclear fuel cycle, which means uranium enrichment — a matter of deep dispute (…..)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/01/world/middleeast/iran-criticizes-egypts-mohamed-morsi-over-syria-comments.html

  3. Readers periodically ask me some variation on this question: “Why does the press follow every jot and tittle of Iran’s nuclear program, but we never see any stories about Israel’s nuclear weapons capability?” It’s a fair question. Going back 10 years into Post archives, I could not find any in-depth reporting on Israeli nuclear capabilities, although national security writer Walter Pincus has touched on it many times in his articles and columns. I spoke with several experts in the nuclear and nonproliferation fields , and they say that the lack of reporting on Israel’s nuclear weapons is real — and frustrating. There are some obvious reasons for this, and others that are not so obvious. First, Israel refuses to acknowledge publicly that it has nuclear weapons. The U.S. government also officially does not acknowledge the existence of such a program. Israel’s official position, as reiterated by Aaron Sagui, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy here, is that “Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Israel supports a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction following the attainment of peace.” The “introduce” language is purposefully vague, but experts say it means that Israel will not openly test a weapon or declare publicly that it has one. According to Avner Cohen, a professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California who has written two books about this subject, this formulation was born in the mid-1960s in Israel and was the foundation of a still-secret 1969 agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and President Richard Nixon, reached when the United States became sure that Israel possessed nuclear bombs. President John Kennedy vigorously tried to prevent Israel from obtaining the bomb; President Lyndon Johnson did so to a much lesser extent. But once it was a done deal, Nixon and every president since has not pressed Israel to officially disclose its capabilities or to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In return, Israel agrees to keep its nuclear weapons unacknowledged and low-profile. Because Israel has not signed the treaty, it is under no legal obligation to submit its major nuclear facility at Dimona to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. Iran, in contrast, did sign the treaty and thus agrees to periodic inspections. IAEA inspectors are regularly in Iran, but the core of the current dispute is that Tehran is not letting them have unfettered access to all of the country’s nuclear installations. Furthermore, although Israel has an aggressive media, it still has military censors that can and do prevent publication of material on Israel’s nuclear forces. Censorship applies to foreign correspondents working there, too (…..)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/patrick-pexton-what-about-israels-nuclear-weapons/2012/08/31/390e486a-f389-11e1-a612-3cfc842a6d89_story.html

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