Ehud Barak restates case for military strike on Iran´s nuclear programme (GUARDIAN UK) Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem 05/01/12)
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Israel´s defence minister dismissed criticism that political leaders
were misleading the public over the consequences of action
Israel´s defence minister Ehud Barak restated the case for a military
strike on Iran´s nuclear programme before it reaches the "immunity
zone", dismissing criticism from the country´s former intelligence
chief that political leaders were misleading the public over the
consequences of action.
"I believe it is well understood in Washington, as well as in
Jerusalem, that as long as there is an existential threat to our
people, all options to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons
should remain on the table," Barak told a meeting of the Foreign
But in a clear reference to former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin´s
comments, he added: "Parts of the world, including some politically
motivated Israeli figures, prefer to bury their heads in the sand."
In an explosive speech to a community meeting on Friday, Diskin said
he had no faith in Israel´s "messianic" political leaders to conduct
a war. Barak and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu were "not the
people whom I would truly want to be at the helm when we set out on
an endeavour of that sort." He cited expert opinion that a military
strike was likely to accelerate Iran´s programme.
Barak conceded that a military option "would be complicated with
certain associated risks. But a radical Islamic Republic of Iran with
nuclear weapons would be far more dangerous both for the region and,
indeed, the world."
Defence officials believe that once Iran´s nuclear programme reaches
what it terms the "zone of immunity", the option of Israeli or US
military action will be closed off. The zone was defined as the point
when it would become impractical to "surgically attack" Iranian
nuclear sites because of their number, location, degree of protection
and the amount of uranium being enriched.
Because Israel´s military capability is more limited than that of the
US, it has a greater sense of urgency. "For us, the clock is ticking
faster," said one official.
Other prominent Israeli political figures tried to tone down the
impact of Diskin´s comments by countering the rhetoric from Barak and
Netanyahu. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert told Israel´s Channel 10
that "there is no reason at this time not to talk about a military
effort, but definitely not to initiate an Israeli military strike."
And former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi told a conference in New
York that economic sanctions needed to be given time to work. "I
think we still have the time. [The time for action] is not tomorrow
morning." (guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2012
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