yaalon office 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Iran continues to laugh all the way to a nuclear bomb, despite intensive
pressure and the current negotiations, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon
Ya’alon said that in the last three months, even as Iran
was in talks with world powers, Tehran had enriched 750 kg. of uranium to 3.5
percent, or 10% of what it had enriched over the last five years; and 36 kg. of
uranium to 20%, which was 20% of all the uranium it had enriched to that
The problem, the minister said at the Institute of National
Security Studies (INSS) annual conference in Tel Aviv, was that the leaders in
Tehran were not convinced that the West was willing to go “all the way,” either
with sanctions or through military action, because of the impact it would have
on global oil prices.
But Michele Flournoy, who up until February was the
third top official in the Pentagon and a key architect of US President Barack
Obama’s national security policy, said there should be no questioning Obama’s
“My experience with the president is that he doesn’t
bluff,” she said, adding that he was careful with what he said, and then
followed up on it.
Flournoy argued that there was no “daylight” between the US and Israel about the
objective to stop Iran – not contain it – and keep it from getting nuclear
weapons. The ultimate question, she said, was whether Israel trusted and
believed that the US would back up its statements with actions.
speak louder then words,” she said, and added that this US administration had
backed up its commitments to Israel’s security with action.
has been critical of world powers for not demanding at the Baghdad talks that
Iran stop all uranium enrichment, transfer all enriched uranium out of the
country and close the underground facility at Qom, Flournoy said that the
demands placed on Iran in Baghdad – which were short of those objectives – were
only the first step.
“Don’t confuse the first step with the end state,”
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro told the conference that the US had
no illusions that Iran might use the negotiations to buy time, but that
Washington was not reducing its demands on Tehran and simply would not accept a
nuclear Iran. He said that the toughest sanctions on Iran were still to
Former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin, who now heads the
INSS, said that the price of a nuclear Iran was higher for Israel than the cost
of attacking the country to prevent it from reaching that point.
neither Iran’s military capabilities nor its possible reaction to such an attack
should be exaggerated, and that the Islamic Republic had no reason to set the
whole region on fire because “those living off oil will be the first to
Yadlin laid out three conditions to place on Iran that were
somewhat softer than those Netanyahu has continuously repeated: removal of most
enriched uranium, tighter supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency,
and a halt to work at the Qom facility.
If those actions were taken, he
said, it would preserve a two-year gap before Iran had the ability to assemble a
He said it was important for Israel to act only after there was
legitimacy in the world to do so. Otherwise, he warned, Israel could attack and
set back the program, but the world would not step up afterward to ensure that
the Iranians didn’t rebuild the program again.
Former Mossad head Meir
Dagan reiterated his position that an attack now would only lead the Iranians to
speed up the program afterward, and unite the ethnically divided country around
Dagan advocated a policy of sanctions and covert actions that
would place Iran in the dilemma of having to choose either the bomb or
While a regime change there might not mean that the country
would abandon its nuclear dreams, it might lead to more rational and moderate
leaders who were not willing to pay the price.
Former IDF chief of staff
Gabi Ashkenazi recommended a continuation of covert action to buy time,
tightening economic sanctions and retaining the threat of military
He said that without those three elements, it would be difficult
to deal with the problem.
Like Yadlin, Ashkenazi said that Iran’s
retaliatory abilities were exaggerated, especially if Tehran’s ally Bashar Assad
were to fall in Syria.