'N. Korea nuke test should worry Israel'
Former IAEC head: N. Korean example could prompt Syria to seek nukes.
By SHANI ROSENFELDER, JPOST.COM STAFF
October 9, 2006 13:03
3 minute read.
n korea newspaper.
(photo credit: AP)
"Israel should be very concerned by North Korea's nuclear test," Uzi Eilam, former head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
According to Eilam, "The cause for concern is three-fold. First, as a world democracy, it should be concerned by the threat a North Korean nuclear capability poses to the entire world. Second, It is certainly possible that Pyongyang would share its nuclear know-how with Iran, in return for a sizeable financial reward. North Korea's nuclear program is far more advanced than Iran's. While Iran has only started to produce fissile material, North Korea has done so at least five years ago."
Demise of the non-proliferation treaty?
"Third, Syria, which is also under heavy international pressure, could look at the North Korean example and decide to actively push for its own nuclear capability, taking into account that it would be a great deterrent to alleviate the pressure and get the international community off its back," Eilam said.
"Today's experiment means that the North Koreans have successfully produced a device whose core is the heart of a nuclear bomb. In order to reach that level, it must be integrated in a weapons system, whether a bomb or a missile warhead. Since it is known that they have been working on missile technology for many years, it is not unforeseeable that North Korea could achieve nuclear weapons capability in 1-2 years."
"The international community's response to the North Korean test," Eilam asserts, "is of the utmost importance. The Security Council must impose much harsher sanctions on Pyongyang."
Labor MK Ephraim Sneh said on Monday that the morning's weapons test had showed that the West had failed in its efforts to prevent North Korea from developing and experimenting with nuclear weapons.
"It could be a good thing," Sneh told Israel Radio, explaining that Israeli policymakers and advocates should use the developments in North Korea to convince the international community to "do something [about Iran] before it's too late."
The risk posed by North Korea obtaining nuclear capability, Sneh said, is less relevant to Israel than the threat posed by Iran, which is committed to the destruction of Israel.
Sneh believes that international economic sanctions would be a viable deterrent. While Iran produces crude oil, he said, it lacks a supply of refined petroleum products. In fact, he added, Iran imports some 40% of its gasoline.
"A serious international embargo would be effective," Sneh asserted.
Unlike Sneh, Dr. Soli Shahvar, an expert on Iran form the University of Haifa, is convinced that economic sanctions would not be an effective deterrent against Iran's nuclear ambitions. "The only option I see is a serious effort [to affect] a regime change," he told Israel Radio.
The fact that North Korea reached such an advanced stage in nuclear experimentation - and Monday morning's experiment was still not tantamount to nuclear weapons capability - could be a strong hint to the Iranians that they are on the right track with their nuclear program, Shahvar said.
"The Iranians are very certain of their direction," Shahvar continued, and said that he "wouldn't rule out" the possibility that Iranian representatives had been present at North Korea's experiment.
North Korea, Shahvar said, is much worse off economically than Iran, which has plentiful energy resources and profits by them. Those same energy resources, he continued, provide the West with a much stronger incentive for cooperation with Iran that with North Korea.
"North Korea's nuclear experiment must alert the entire world that the next nuclear weapons test could be conducted by Iran," Shahvar warned.