Mossad warns of Iranian threat (THE GLOBE AND MAIL) By PAUL ADAMS TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 11/18/03 Page A19)
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TEL AVIV -- The head of Israel´s Mossad intelligence agency emerged
briefly from the shadows yesterday to warn that Iran´s nuclear
program represents "the biggest threat to Israel´s existence since
its creation" in 1948.
In a rare public appearance before the Israeli Knesset´s foreign and
defence committee, Major-General Meir Dagan reportedly testified that
Iran is now "close to the point of no return" in acquiring nuclear
Israel is believed to be the only country in the region with nuclear
weapons and has used force once before to defend that monopoly. In
1981, Israeli jets attacked a nuclear reactor in Osiraq, Iraq, in a
pre-emptive strike aimed at preventing the development of an Iraqi
bomb. At the time, Israeli officials said that they would not
tolerate the development of nuclear weapons by regional rivals.
Gen. Dagan testified that Israel has discovered that Iran is now
nearing completion of a uranium-enrichment plant in the Kachan area
that would give it the capability to construct about a dozen nuclear
bombs, according to Agence France-Presse. Earlier this year, Iranian
President Mohammed Khatami said that Tehran was building a nuclear
power plant in the area to exploit uranium deposits.
Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is purely peaceful, but
Israel has long feared that it would develop weapons capability. Iran
has already developed long-range missiles, which are sometimes
paraded in public painted with anti-Israeli slogans. Iran does not
recognize Israel and its leaders have often denied its right to exist.
Gen. Dagan appeared at the Knesset a few days before the United
Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is
to decide whether to recommend that the Security Council consider
sanctions against Iran for having hidden some elements in its nuclear
program. The IAEA recently said that that the country had secretly
manufactured plutonium, although the agency said it has found no
evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. Washington has
scoffed at the IAEA´s reluctance to pronounce that Iran is striving
to make nuclear weapons, but European leaders have been more
conciliatory. European Union foreign-policy chief Javier Solana has
remarked that Iran had been "honest."
(© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. 11/18/03)
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