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International pressure and UN sanctions will not stop the Iranian march toward nuclearization, the head of military intelligence told the cabinet Sunday.
OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin's words need to be seen within the context of a debate in Jerusalem regarding how Israel should react to the international community's slow and so-far ineffectual international response to the Iranian nuclear threat, and the widespread assessment in Israel that the US will be unlikely to take military action against Iran any time soon.
In recent weeks there have been high-level voices in Jerusalem arguing that it is becoming clear, judging by the world's reaction to Iran's decision to continue with uranium enrichment, that Israel may have no other choice but to act alone to slow down the Iranian nuclear program.
According to Yadlin, the Iranians are playing for time, and the UN Security Council was acting slower than expected regarding clamping sanctions on Teheran. He said that Iran's confidence in this matter was growing, and that this was causing concern in the Sunni World.
Representatives of an American Jewish Committee delegation that met in Cairo last week with senior Egyptian officials told The Jerusalem Post that some of these officials were in favor of UN imposed sanctions on Iran, and that Cairo had strategic concerns about Iran "remarkably similar" to those in Jerusalem.
Yadlin told the cabinet there is less supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iran than in the past, and that the supervision that exists is not of the same quality as it was previously. He also said that Iran's nuclear aspirations were held by both extremists like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the so-called moderates, such as former president Muhammad Khatami.
Turning to Lebanon, Yadlin said that it was too early to judge how the war has impacted on Israel's deterrence in the region.
On the one hand he said that the Arab world saw that Israel was very determined and willing to go to war over the kidnapping of its soldiers and the firing of Katyusha rockets. On the other hand, he said, Hizbullah was spinning the war as a victory, and "we are to close to be able to judge the ramifications."
Yadlin said that the Lebanese Army was deploying in south Lebanon in an "effective manner," and it would enable an IDF withdrawal, although he did not give a timetable. He said that there was an internal struggle in Lebanon taking place between the camp affiliated with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, and the camp affiliated with Hizbullah and Syria.
He said that the battle over implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 could spill over from a political disagreement to a military confrontation between these two camps, and that Hizbullah had no intention of disarming on its own volition, or letting anyone else do it for them.
According to Yadlin, Hizbullah has - a month after the war - carefully complied with the cease-fire and does not want a second round of fighting at this time.
He said that the organization was busy with the rehabilitation of south Lebanon. It was also trying to rehabilitate its military capacity, but at a "very, very low volume," he said.
Yadlin said that while Hizbullah was not interested in a "second round," it was interested in encouraging Palestinian terrorism, and in carrying out actions that would not lead to an all-out Israeli military offensive.
At the same time, Yadlin said Hizbullah was unlikely to carry out attacks abroad, because since 9/11 the international community no longer saw these types of attacks as legitimate.
He also said that Hizbullah did not want to be identified with Al-Qaida and world Jihad.
Yadlin said that Syria was considering encouraging terrorism on the Golan, but that according to his assessment Damascus would "think 10 times" before actually employing this policy.
Yadlin came under criticism inside the cabinet for what is widely perceived as a major intelligence failure during the war - not knowing the extent of the bunker system Hizbullah had built in south Lebanon.
Yadlin said that the bunkers were extremely well camouflaged, often using fiberglass rocks as cover. He said that the IDF knew about the existence of the bunkers, but did not know where each bunker was located. He said that this type of information is difficult to get from the air.
"When you haven't crossed the border since 2000, you are not going to know the location of every bunker," he was quoted as telling the cabinet.