(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Now that Iran has crossed the technological threshold needed to build a nuclear weapon, it isn't in the Islamic republic's strategic interest to actually do so, OC Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin said on Wednesday.
Giving a briefing on regional security to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yadlin explained that whether or not Iran built a nuclear bomb now depended mainly on a strategic decision in Teheran. The regime's approach was to work slowly so as not to give the international community a reason to take punitive measures, he said.
"Their strategy is to obtain the ability" to build a bomb quickly once the decision to do so had been made, he said. "They operate based on a strategy that would make it hard to incriminate them" for breaking their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It was possible Iran would stop just a few steps from obtaining their final goal of a nuclear bomb, he said.
"They are enriching fissile material in a low percentage of 4.5, but whoever knows how to enrich [uranium to] 4.5% knows also how to enrich it to 20%, 60% or 93%. With 4,000 centrifuges spinning, to change from 4.5% to 93% takes only a few months to a year," Yadlin said.
"They are enriching great quantities. They are doing it under the cover of civilian activities, as if they need the stuff for civilian enterprises," he said.
Yadlin said all of Iran's 4,000 centrifuges were currently monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that the country's plan to build 30 reactors for power generation provided ample excuse to enrich vast quantities of uranium.
"The Iranian threat is a threat to the global order, not just to Israel, and to convince the world of the need for action, we need to present evidence that will incriminate Iran," Yadlin told the MKs.
"The campaign to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear is not yet over," he said. "A correct combination of diplomacy and carrot-and-stick policies can change the conduct of the regime in Teheran."
Israel's belief that Iran was working to obtain nuclear weapons had been presented to Western nations, but was not accepted by them, he said.
On other issues, Yadlin said Operation Cast Lead had strengthened Israel's deterrence vis-a-vis Hamas. He said the rockets fired at Israel since the campaign had been launched by other groups, and that Hamas was working to force these organizations to stop.
However, Hamas was preparing for another round of fighting, he said.
"Hamas did not give up on its ideology of 'resistance.' It is preparing itself for another round of fighting and will therefore never sign an agreement to stop weapons smuggling. For Hamas, smuggling is the resistance's main option," he said.