The international community is starting to accept the idea that Iran's nuclear weapons program is approaching a “zone of immunity” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
The “zone of immunity” refers to the point at which Iran's nuclear facilities would be immune from any potential Israeli military strike because all the necessary components for developing a nuclear weapon would have been moved further underground, rendering Israeli weapons ineffective.
Barak remarked that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report
issued last month overcame the reservations of previous reports
and clarified beyond any doubt that Iran has a clandestine program to
pursue nuclear weapons.
International opinion has also evolved, according to the defense minister, as countries realize how much Iran is destabilizing the Middle East and that it will continue to do so if no action is taken.
In discussing the recent round of sanctions against Iran, Barak said they showed movement in a positive direction, but that much harsher sanctions would be necessary. He also noted that Iran continues to be a central player in financing and supporting terror throughout the region and globally.
The defense minister cited Iran as the greatest security challenge confronting the country. He stated that 2012 would be a critical year in addressing the Iranian threat.
Moving on from Iran, Barak said that there has recently been an uptick in Hezbollah terror attacks abroad. He stated that he expected these attacks to continue.
At the same time, “Hezbollah continues to increase the volume, range and destructive power of its rockets. The defense establishment must respond and prepare appropriately for Hezbollah's increased capacity,” said Barak.
Despite these threats posed by Hezbollah, he told the committee that as a general matter, Israel's policy of deterrence is still effective in preventing Hezbollah from risking a greater or more direct confrontation currently. Barak's remarks also included a survey of issues relating to other Middle Eastern countries, the relationship with the US and a number of other issues.