A fresh voice adds to the alarm over Iran´s nuclear ambitions (LONDON TIMES) By Bronwen Maddox 01/27/05)
LONDON TIMES Articles-Index-Top
IRAN could be less than a year away from “the point of no return” in
acquiring nuclear weapons, according to Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli
“I feel that none of the Western countries can live with Iran having
a nuclear capability,” he said in London yesterday before today’s
remembrance service for the victims of Auschwitz, and after a meeting
with Tony Blair.
Under lengthy questioning he did not reject remarks by Dick Cheney,
the US VicePresident, who speculated last week that Israel might be
prompted to attack Iran’s nuclear sites to prevent it from obtaining
the nuclear bomb.
The first route should be diplomacy by the US and the
European “troika” — Britain, France and Germany — Mr Mofaz said.
But he noted that diplomacy had so far failed to achieve a “full
stop” of the programme, and that “the goal should be the full
stop”. “If they achieve nuclear power [weapons], it is a threat to
the free world,” he said. “I believe in the long run this is the main
threat that will exist, not only against Israel but against Western
His remarks are bound to stir up the past week’s alarm that Israel
has a pre-emptive military strike high in its planning after a series
of aggressive comments by the Bush Administration, including the
Certainly Mr Mofaz, in his choice of language, did nothing to dispel
such speculation, although he stopped short of saying that Israel had
such a plan.
The Defence Minister stuck to the formal line that diplomacy must be
tried until it was seen to have failed. “I believe the negotiations
that took place between Iran and the troika and Mohamed ElBaradei
[director-general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency] have
achieved something by suspension of the Iranian nuclear programme,”
But almost in the same breath he dismissed their value, saying “the
dialogue [Iran] had with the European troika was mainly to buy time”.
The way forward now, he argued, “is by leadership of the US with the
European countries, taking this issue to the UN”, where “the tools
should be sanctions and very deep inspections in all nuclear sites in
He dismissed Iran’s claims to be interested only in civilian nuclear
power. “We know they have a very high desire to achieve the goal of
nuclear power [weapons] in their hands.”
He added that “they already have long-range surface-to-surface
He defined “the point of no return” as the “enrichment of uranium”,
the most controversial part of the Iranian nuclear work as it can be
used for military as well as civilian purposes.
It goes almost without saying that such belligerent talk suits
Israel’s — and Washington’s — purpose, given their shared scepticism
of the value of the European troika’s diplomacy.
However, independent analysts are sceptical of the detail of Israel’s
alarming claims. Gary Samore, the director of studies at the
International Institute for Strategic Studies, the London-based think-
tank, who was an anti-proliferation negotiator for the Clinton
Administration, believes that Iran is still “a couple of years away”
from nuclear weapons potential. (Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY