Ehud Barak 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)
Israel reserves the option to use military force to stop Iran’s nuclear program
but a strike is not imminent, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday while
downplaying the consequences of an Iranian retaliation to such an
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“We have no intention, at the moment, of taking action, but
Israel is far from being paralyzed by fear,” Barak told Israel Radio. “It must
act calmly and quietly – we don’t need big wars.”
Barak’s comments came a
day after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
that Israel and the US were currently in disagreement about how to deal with
Iran’s nuclear program and that it was not certain that Israel would alert the
US before launching a military strike.
“I’m not sure the Israelis share
our assessment of that. And because they don’t and because to them this
is an existential threat, I think probably that it’s fair to say that our
expectations are different right now,” Dempsey said.
Barak said that
while he respects the US and believes that Washington is committed to Israel’s
security and regional qualitative military edge, Israel would ultimately need to
act according to its own interests. While he hoped sanctions and diplomacy would
succeed in stopping Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, “unfortunately, I think
that is not going to happen.”
“We need to remember that ultimately,
Israel is a sovereign state and the government and defense establishment, and no
one else, are responsible for Israel’s security and future,” Barak
The defense minister said that Israel was not searching for a war
but that it might need “to stand the test.”
Asked about the two recent
mysterious explosions that have struck Iran – one in a missile base near Tehran
and the other at a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan – Barak said that all
delays to Iran’s program were welcome.
Meanwhile Thursday, former Mossad
chief Meir Dagan said in an interview with Channel 2 that an attack against Iran
would drag Israel into a regional war with severe consequences.
dismissed Barak’s assessment that 500 people or less will be
“There will be more,” Dagan said. “I need to consider that the
extent of the destruction, the paralyzing of the ability to maintain a normal
life and the price we will be asked to pay in human lives will be higher.”