Only two countries are able to attack Iran: U.S. and Israel (HAŽARETZ NEWS OP-ED) By Moshe Arens 02/22/12)
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For the past 12 years the world has been watching the progress of
Iran´s nuclear program. Its ultimate aim is to attain nuclear
weaponry and is supported by a growing arsenal of long-range
ballistic missiles. Step by step Iran has progressed over the years,
seemingly determined to reach its goal. So what is going to happen
next? Can the Iranians still be stopped, and if so by what means?
Although there may be disagreements here and there - in Jerusalem,
Washington, D.C. and the capitals of Europe - there is agreement on
four important points:
1. Iran is working actively to obtain nuclear weapons. Whatever
doubts existed on this matter over the years have been dispelled.
2. A nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranian ayatollahs represents
a danger to the world. Although repeated Iranian threats to wipe
Israel off the face of the Earth have created the impression that it
is only Israel that would be endangered by an Iranian nuclear weapon,
it is now recognized that a nuclear Iran would spell danger to the
3. The use of economic sanctions to convince the Iranians to end
their nuclear weapons project is far preferable to the use of
military force to achieve this aim.
4. It is pretty late in the game. A lot of time slipped by while the
very existence of the Iranian nuclear bomb project was being debated,
and more time while attempts were being made to convince the Iranians
that it was in their best interests to abandon the program. All this
time, the project advanced. Now it is clear that they are close to
achieving their goal and there is little time left to take effective
There are two major villains in this extended drama. Firstly, Mohamed
ElBaradei, who served three terms (1997-2009 ) as director general of
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA ), the international
organization charged with the task of inhibiting the use of nuclear
energy for military purposes. During his tenure he repeatedly
downplayed claims of any possible military dimensions to Iran´s
nuclear program. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in
2005. Only after he was replaced at the IAEA by Yukiya Amano has the
alarm been raised.
Secondly, U.S. intelligence agencies released a report in 2007
claiming that Iran had halted its drive toward building an atom bomb
in 2003. The basis or purpose for this patently wrong estimate was
never made clear. But it brought about a relaxation in the
international effort to halt Iran´s atomic bomb project.
On entering the White House in 2009, President Barack Obama extended
his hand to the Iranian rulers, hoping to engage them in negotiations
that would put an end to their nuclear ambitions. Effective sanctions
against the Iranian regime have only been imposed by a good part of
the international community during the past few months. Are they
going to be sufficient, and have they come in time? That is the
question engaging the heads of government in Jerusalem, Washington
and the capitals of Europe.
The military option - the one that has been "on the table" for the
past few years - is still there, and is obviously problematic in
light of the consequences that are likely to follow (some of which
are in the realm of the unknown ). But there is no doubt that a
military strike would set back Iran´s nuclear project significantly.
It may come as a surprise to some that, at this time, there are only
two countries in the world with the military capability to carry out
an effective military strike against Iran´s nuclear facilities. They
are the U.S. and Israel. There may not be any country able to deal
effectively with an Iranian state in possession of nuclear weapons.
(© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 02/22/12)
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