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Mossad warns of Iranian threat (THE GLOBE AND MAIL) By PAUL ADAMS TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 11/18/03 Page A19)Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20031118/UIRAN18/TPInternational/Africa GLOBE AND MAIL GLOBE AND MAIL Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 weapons.

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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