Yadlin conference 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The 2013 Jerusalem Post Annual Conference at the Mariott Marquis Hotel in New
York’s Times Square supplied many headlines.
Former prime minister Ehud
Olmert angered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and people in the room by
downplaying the Iranian nuclear threat and defending the Second Lebanon
There were reassurances that Israel was not trying to push the
to go to war with Syria from Ambassador Michael Oren and
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz, the minister closest to
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan made his first media appearance
following lifesaving surgery and came out swinging. Two of Israel’s top
defenders, Prof. Alan Dershowitz and Post
columnist Caroline Glick, snarled back
at each other.
But the biggest news with the most serious
short- and long-term ramifications for Israel’s security did not come from the
stage or the rooms behind the scenes where interviews took place. It came from
Table Seven in the dining hall where VIPs were served lunch.
where former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin explained in closed
conversations what he meant when he said at last week’s Institute for National
Security Studies (INSS) conference that Iran had already crossed the red line
that Netanyahu set in a high-profile speech at the United Nations General
The retired general’s INSS statement embarrassed Netanyahu, who
made a point of defending himself
at the start of Monday’s Likud faction
Yadlin told the Post
at the lunch that Iran crossing Netanyahu’s
red line did not mean that they have the bomb. Netanyahu set his red line at
Iran acquiring the 250 kilograms of 20-percent-enriched uranium needed for a bomb
if enriched further to 90%.
But that further enrichment – however quickly
and secretly it can take place – still would have to be done for Iran to join
the nuclear club.
The news from Yadlin was that Iran had not backtracked
on its enrichment, unlike previous assessments by top Israeli and international
figures. Netanyahu had been credited around the world with pressuring Iran to
backtrack and convert 40% of its 20% uranium to fuel rods that cannot be used to
make a bomb.
A Washington Post
editorial even said US President Barack
Obama should thank Netanyahu for proving that “clear red lines can help create
the ‘time and space for diplomacy’ that President Obama seeks.”
Minister Moshe Ya’alon characterized this backtracking by saying “you cannot
make an egg out of an omelette.”
Comes Yadlin and says that that might be true,
but Iran did not make a whole omelette. They only made a third of an omelette.
Specifically, out of the 110 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium, only 30
kilograms became fuel rods.
The other 80 kilograms were made into
oxidized uranium in a powdered form, or – to stay with Ya’alon’s metaphor –
How do you make an egg out of powdered eggs?
draws a chemical equation and says it can be constituted using yellowcake
uranium that Iran possesses.
The IAEA says that Iran has 170 kilograms of
20% enriched uranium that have not been converted. Add that to the 80, and you
get 250 kilograms, a crossed red line, an undermined prime minister and a
Yellowcake does not sound appetizing to hear about over
lunch. But it could end up making big news.