Gilad: Iran not existential threat yet

Ex-intel. officer says world more deter-mined to stop Iran now than before.

amos gilad 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
amos gilad 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Head of the diplomacy-security branch of the Defense Ministry Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad commended the international determination to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He said that there was a clear difference between the world community's approach to the problem today, in contrast to its attitude ten years ago.
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In an interview to Army Radio, the former intelligence officer reiterated the conclusions of the IAEA special report, saying that the Iranians are determined to obtain nuclear arms capabilities and that they would deceive the world in any way they can to attain that goal. Today they are surprised to have to deal with the intensity of the world's determination to stop them, Gilad said, and added that Iran was worried about the pressure. He warned that as it approaches critical points in the nuclear development program, Iran may show some flexibility, but that would only be a ploy. When asked about international criticism claiming that Israel employed a double standard, demanding Iran be stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons, when Israel itself allegedly has a vast arsenal, Gilad said that the world recognized that Israel and Iran cannot be compared since Israel is a democratic nation that poses no threat to its neighbors. He made sure to note that his reply did not confirm the allegations of Israel possessing nuclear weapons. Gilad tried to clarify that Iran did not yet pose a threat to Israel's survival, but may do so when it obtains nuclear capability. He noted that, as Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated, the security establishment refers to Iran as a severe or a strategic threat, and not an existential one. He added that a threat to Israel's survival could come from a combination of a government that incites its public using religious-nationalist ideals and nuclear weapons capability. In more local affairs, Gilad defended the intelligence community against accusations of catering to what politicians and the academy want to hear. On Monday, former OC Intelligence Brig.-Gen. Uri Sagi blasted the intelligence community of focusing solely on either targeted interception of terrorist attacks, or forecasting future threats, rather than studying the Arab world in depth. He accused the field of conducting "fast-food intelligence." "This is the world we live in, for better or worse," Sagi said in an Army Radio interview, and added "[Our future] will be determined here, not overseas." In response, Gilad said that the field must focus on identifying threats against Israel. There is no appeasement on behalf of the intelligence community, he asserted.