Analysis: Time running out on Iran, but Israel hopes tide will turn

Israel hopeful sanctions may work, but IDF still readying itself for worst case scenario.

f-16 loaded jet 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
f-16 loaded jet 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
As 2009 comes to an end, IDF Military Intelligence is in the final stages of completing its strategic assessment for next year and again, as in recent years, the Iranian nuclear threat features prominently on its list of threats. The coming year could be crucial for the IDF. According to recent reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has already obtained sufficient quantities of low-enriched uranium to create enough high-enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb. Predictions are that if Iran continues to enrich uranium at its current pace it will have enough low-enriched uranium for 2 to 3 bombs sometime next year. For this to happen Iran would have to raise its enrichment levels, a move that would be detected by the IAEA, which has cameras inside the Natanz enrichment facility. If and when this happens, the clock will start ticking and the world will have only a few months to stop it. As such, it is reasonable to assume that Israeli preparations are under way on both the military and diplomatic fronts. The sense in Israel is that sanctions could have an effect on Iran and get the Islamic regime to rethink its nuclear advancements. At the same time, the feeling is that while France and Germany appear to be more open today to tougher sanctions, without Russia or China the possibility of these sanctions being imposed remain slim. The feeling in Israel is that the US today understands the severity of the nuclear threat posed by Iran and as a result is serious about holding a tough and exhausting dialogue with Teheran, aimed at stopping the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center published a report called "Meeting the Challenge - Time is Running Out." Authored by two former US senators and the former deputy head of the US Military European Command, which is responsible for Israel, the report warns that Israel may attack in one of two scenarios. "Should we fail to act decisively to curtail Iran's nuclear program in the near term, or if it appears likely that Iran is about to obtain game-changing military technology - such as Russia's S-300 anti-aircraft system - Israel, more likely than not, will act on its own," the authors wrote. The White House is likely aware of this possibility but for that reason Israel is hoping that the dialogue with Iran, which reports said Tuesday would begin on October 1, will have a set deadline and limited gestures. The two likely scenarios are that either the US fails to reach a deal with Iran, or reaches some sort of compromise with Teheran under which it allows the Islamic Republic to continue enriching uranium to develop a nuclear power program, but at the same increases supervision and compliance with IAEA regulations. Israel would be left to decide if it can live with such a deal.