IDF also concerned that Hizbullah government would involve Lebanese army in conflict with Israel.
By YAAKOV KATZPublished: MAY 18, 2009 23:40Advertisement
A change in leadership in Teheran would be one of form and not substance, according to the latest IDF assessments, which rule out the possibility that a new president would be open to the possibility of freezing the Islamic republic's nuclear program.
There are four main contenders for the presidency: incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust and calls for Israel's destruction; former parliament speaker and reformist Mehdi Karroubil; reformist former prime minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi; and former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezaee.
The vote will be held on June 12.
Mousavi, 67, has spoken out against Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, and is seen by many as the candidate with the best chance of defeating Ahmadinejad.
Rezaee is one of seven Iranians for whom an Argentinean judge issued an international arrest warrant for involvement in the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. He has been a fierce critic of Ahmadinejad's policies, saying in a recent press conference that they have led the Islamic Republic to the edge of a "precipice."
Despite the criticism of Ahmadinejad, Israel does not believe that any of the candidates - should they win - would halt Teheran's nuclear program, which according to Military Intelligence is on a fast track toward developing a nuclear weapon within 18 months.
"There is unlikely to be a change in Iran's nuclear policies no matter who wins the elections," a defense official said on Monday. "All of the leading candidates would likely continue with the nuclear program as part of Iran's overall strategy to project regional dominance."
According to the assessments, Israel needs to prepare for the possibility that Iran will not publicly demonstrate its nuclear capability but instead adopt a policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear capability similar to Israel's. This would be done to avoid tough international sanctions while at the same time establishing a strong deterrent throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
Another election that Israel is closely following is Lebanon's parliamentary, elections to be held on June 7 amid predictions that Hizbullah will solidify its power base and perhaps establish the next ruling coalition.
If Hizbullah wins, Jerusalem believes the Iranian-backed Shi'ite group will install "acceptable faces" in the next cabinet. Israel is concerned that Hizbullah will appoint a defense minister affiliated with the group who will call for the participation of the Lebanese army in a future conflict with Israel, in contrast to the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the Lebanese army stayed out of the war.
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