Barak: A nuclear Iran is taking shape before us. Time for decisions is short (DEBKAfile) Special Report 08/09/12 2:15 PM (GMT+02:00)
Stout refutation of reported disagreements over the military option
against Iran’s nuclear program between the US and Israel, and himself
and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, took up most of a long radio
interview given by Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday, Aug. 9. He
explained that US and Israeli intelligence essentially see eye to eye
on this matter and so do he and the prime minister.
Barak referred to the new US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on
Iran as confirming that both capitals understand that not much time
is left for making decision on whether or not to go on the offensive
against Iran’s nuclear facilities and when, because, he said, “a
nuclear Iran is taking shape right before our eyes.”
Defense Minister Barak´s key remark was this: "I am aware of an
American intelligence finding (not the new National Intelligence
Estimate) that brings American intelligence assessments [of the
current state of the Iranian nuclear program] very close to ours.
This makes the Iranian question [i.e., the issue of the Iranian
nuclear program and a possible military operation against it]
extremely urgent," he said without further explanation.
Barak disclosed that the US and Israel have been essentially of one
mind for many months in their estimates of Iranian nuclear progress
and the factors holding Tehran back from starting to build a nuclear
bomb. All options therefore remain on the table, he stressed.
DEBKAfile´s military and intelligence sources add: American-Israeli
talks about a military operation against Iran wound up months ago in
early 2012. The administration was made aware that notwithstanding
President Barack Obama’s objections, Israel would soon go into action
against Iran´s nuclear facilities.
This presumption has been adopted as their working hypothesis by the
top US command echelons, from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and down to
the head of the US Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, who has both
Israel and Iran in his jurisdiction.
Barak stressed that he and the prime minister are in total harmony on
this issue. "What we (the prime minister and I, and the Americans)
understand is that there is not much time left for deciding [about an
attack on Iran]"
He referred in answer to a question to the comment by former Mossad
chief Ephraim Halevy made last week: “if I were an Iranian, I would
be very worried in the next twelve weeks.”
To this, Barak said "There is some basis to what Halevy said." He
added: “We will soon have to make some difficult decisions.”
As to the public disputes over the media on the wisdom of attacking
Iran, the defense minister said some of the debates and public
disclosures not only harm Israel’s security but actually aid Tehran.
The price of allowing Iran to attain a nuclear weapon will be much
greater than the cost of an attack. It is already happening, said
the Israeli minister. "And we must take into account the dangers and
the very steep price in human life and in resources, if Iran goes
nuclear. First, we must consider the outcome of first Saudi Arabia,
then Turkey, and then the New Egypt becoming nuclear powers in their
Asked about an unattributed report Thursday that Saudi Arabia had
sent a message to the Obama administration threatening to intercept
any Israeli bomber planes using its air space to strike Iran, Barak
replied he was not familiar with any such message. But, he said,
Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state and makes its own decisions like
any other country.
He went on to warn that another consequence of Iran’s nuclearization
would be the strengthening of terrorist elements in the region, such
as Tehran’s proxy, the Lebanese Hizballah.
At the same time, Barak also said: It´s quite possible that we may
have to deal with Hizballah anyway.”
This was taken by DEBKAfile’s sources as suggesting that Hizballah is
a rising menace - both because of its support for Bashar Assad in the
civil war and for performing Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks on
Israelis in different parts of the world.
In discussing the situation in Egypt and Sinai-based jihadist terror,
Defense Minister Barak asserted his confidence that Egypt is capable
of dealing with it. “But I can’t say whether it has the will to do
so,” he added.
For more than a year since Mubarak’s overthrow, “Israel has been
readjusting its military and intelligence resources in the areas
abutting Egypt and Sinai,” he said. "We have deployed an Iron Dome
missile interceptor battery near Eilat in case it becomes necessary
in that sector."
Barak did not elaborate upon what he expects to happen in the Eilat
sector, which is the southernmost point on the Israeli map, or
against whom the missile defense system was deployed.
He did offer a prediction on Syria, estimating that quite soon "we
would see Syrian President Bashar Assad hunkering down with his army
in a fortified Alawite enclave" encompassing the Syrian coast and the
"The longer the war in Syria drags on," he said, "the greater the
prospects of total chaos."
The defense minister underlined the importance of attempts to renew
peace negotiations with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. He
cited the growing strength of Hamas and its ties with the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt and in other Arab countries as lending urgency
to the revival of the peace process.
"On this issue, time is not on our side," he said. "But if progress
proves evasive, both of us [Israel and the Palestinians] may be faced
with having to perform certain mutually-agreed unilateral measures.”
(Copyright 2000-2012 DEBKAfile. 08/09/12)
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