As Iran continues its development of a nuclear weapon, Israel is growing
more concerned that the Islamic Republic will embrace a policy of
ambiguity, similar to the policy upheld in Israel regarding its own
alleged nuclear capabilities.
“The possibility that Iran would
adopt such a policy is growing,” a senior government official involved
in defense-related issues told The Jerusalem Post
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Monday, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will arrive for talks with
Defense Minister Ehud Barak that will focus on the Iranian nuclear
challenge as well as US efforts to help Israel retain its qualitative
military edge in the Middle East.
Panetta will be met by an honor
guard at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv and will later in the day lay
a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Panetta’s
visit comes after a visit last week by Adm. James Stavridis, commander
of the United States European Command (EUCOM).
Iran has mastered
the fuel enrichment stage of its nuclear program and has proven its
ability to enrich uranium to as high as 20 percent. General assessments
are that if it so decides, it would take Iran just a number of months
for it to enrich a sufficient quantity of uranium to over the 90% that
would be required for one nuclear device.
element for Israel is Iran’s announcement last month that it is moving a
cascade of advanced centrifuges to the Fordo facility dug inside a
mountain near Qom that Barak said in 2009 was immune to standard air
The current assessment in Israel is that Iran is working to accumulate a
large quantity of low-enriched uranium that will enable it at a later
stage to reprocess the material and enrich a larger quantity to higher
levels and manufacture a number of nuclear devices.
“Iran very well could continue on its current course for a while, during
which it continues to enrich uranium like it is today but without going
to the breakout stage and publicly making a nuclear weapon,” the senior
If that were to happen, the concern in Israel is that Iran would not
immediately declare that it has developed a nuclear device – assuming
that it did so without expelling international inspectors from Natanz –
to avoid providing the world with the justification to either increase
sanctions or to use military action to stop it.