With at least some Hezbollah forces tied down in the fighting in Syria, and the organization experiencing political blowback in Lebanon for its support of the Assad regime, the US may be concerned that Israeli leaders believe the cost of an Iran strike — especially in terms of rocket strikes on Israeli cities from across the border — has dropped significantly, according to the report.
In July, Netanyahu told NBC’s “Face the Nation” that Iran was getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and that “they’re edging up to the red line.”Sponsored Ads
Netanyahu said, “They haven’t crossed it yet. They’re also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate — that is, within a few weeks.”
“I won’t wait until it’s too late,” Netanyahu vowed at the time.
There can be no question whatsoever that in 2013 Iran could get a bomb; there is also no question that Iran could be bombed. But my best judgement is that in 2013 Iran will not get a bomb, and Iran will not be bombed. To be precise, I am prepared to bet $51 of my money against $49 of those who want to bet that by December 31, 2013, Iran will either have a nuclear weapon or have been the target of a major bombing attack.
My conclusion is not meant as a counsel of complacency. Anyone who believes that there is a 20 percent chance that Iran could either get a bomb or be bombed within the next year should recognize that the consequences of either outcome drive this issue to the top of the foreign policy agenda, not only for Israel but for the United States.
Assessing Iran’s nuclear challenge requires confronting an array of complex technical issues. Advocates who find these details too demanding elevate their arguments to higher level abstractions. On the other hand, too many specialists take a deep dive into the technicalities in a way that produces fog, only to emerge in the end with recommendations that they claim follow from unfathomable analysis. This essay seeks to walk a fine line between technical realities, on the one hand, and policy debate, on the other. What follows are the answers to 12 key questions about Iran’s nuclear challenge:
1. When will Iran get a nuclear weapon?
My unambiguous answer is: it depends. Specifically, it depends on 1) Iran’s decision to do so; 2) the path Iran chooses to a bomb; 3) the obstacles Iran faces along each path to a bomb; and 4) the costs and benefits to Iran of acquiring a bomb versus stopping at a base camp on the path to a bomb.
Hezbollah and Lebanese security officials’ fears have become reality during the past two weeks. The explosion that targeted the heart of Hezbollah’s most secure neighborhood and the bomb ambush of one of the party’s convoys along Chatoura Road leading to the Syrian border on July 16 embodied what had until recently been mere conjecture: the start of an open war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the aim of punishing the party for its involvement in the battle against the Syrian opposition in Qusair. Behind the scenes, it seems Hezbollah is hinting at Saudi Arabian involvement in these attacks, specifically accusing the director-general of Saudi intelligence, Bandar bin Sultan, who Hezbollah considers responsible for funding and conducting these attacks.
Neither Iran’s election, nor sanctions nor military threats are likely to divert it from the path it is on to getting nuclear weapons
But two of the most respected independent analysts—David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security and Greg Jones, a RAND Corporation researcher who writes on Iran for the Non-proliferation Policy Education Centre (NPEC)—believe that time is running out more quickly. Mr Albright thinks that by mid-2014 Iran will be able from a standing start to produce enough fissile material for a single bomb in one or two weeks. Mr Jones reckons that later this year Iran will be able to produce within about ten weeks enough weapons-grade uranium for a couple of nuclear weapons.
The S300 anti-aircraft missiles that Russia has reportedly started sending to Syria don’t just pose a threat to Israeli or American pilots; they also pose a threat to Russians on the ground.
If Israel or the U.S. bomb the S300 weapons in Syria, there’s a good chance they “will kill a lot of Russians,” Robert Hewson, editor of IHS Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, said to the Guardian
As the impasse over Tehran’s nuclear program worsens, those most likely to be directly effected by an Iranian bomb are showing greater alarm. While the media fixates on Israel and its possible reaction, other regional players have no less at stake.
Despite Riyadh’s long-held advocacy of making the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, there has been much speculation in the last two decades about the possibility of its acquiring or developing nuclear weapons should Tehran obtain the bomb. In the words of King Abdullah: “If Iran developed nuclear weapons … everyone in the region would do the same,” a sentiment echoed by Prince Turki al-Faisal, former head of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate. Has Riyadh decided to go down the nuclear road, or is this bluster a desperate bid to stop Tehran’s nuclear program dead in its tracks?
Former IDF intel chief says Tehran will be able to break out to the bomb this summer; calls for drastic increase in sanctions
Iran has essentially crossed the “red line” set by Israel for its nuclear activity, and the coming few months will be a crucial period, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, a former head of IDF Military Intelligence, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a security conference in Tel Aviv, Yadlin said that “for all intents and purposes, Iran has crossed Israel’s red line… in the summer, Iran will be a month or two away from deciding about a bomb.”
The Korean crisis has now become a strategic threat to America’s core national interests. The best option is to destroy the North Korean missile on the ground before it is launched. The United States should use a precise airstrike to render the missile and its mobile launcher inoperable.
President Obama should state clearly and forthrightly that this is an act of self-defense in response to explicit threats from North Korea and clear evidence of a prepared weapon. He should give the leaders of South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan advance notice before acting. And he should explain that this is a limited defensive strike on a military target — an operation that poses no threat to civilians — and that America does not intend to bring about regime change. The purpose is to neutralize a clear and present danger. That is all.
The regime feels safe in striking out along the maritime boundary because the two sides have repeatedly skirmished in the area in the past 15 years. But President Park, determined to show backbone, dispatches on-alert F-15K fighter aircraft armed with AGM-84E SLAM-Expanded Response air-to-ground missiles to destroy the North Korean installations responsible for the latest assault. For good measure, they also bomb a North Korean mini-submarine pier as belated payback for the sinking of Cheonan. North Korean soldiers and military officers are killed in the attack. Pyongyang vows a merciless response and launches a risky salvo of rockets into downtown Seoul, in hope of shocking the Blue House into seeking an immediate cessation of fighting. But far from ending the tit-for-tat attacks, North Korean actions have now triggered the Second Korean War.
In a rare interview, the man dubbed “the father of Iran’s nuclear programme” tells how the project began under the Shah, who wanted to leave the option for a bomb open.
Now in his 80s, Akbar Etemad remembers all too clearly the pressure the Americans tried to apply to him when he was head of Iran’s nuclear programme between 1974 and 1978.
Mr Etemad was the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation and it was under him that the country’s nuclear project began and flourished.
The Shah of Iran had announced that he wanted to build nuclear power plants in the country, a plan supported by the United States. The goal was for Iran to produce 23,000 megawatts of electrical power. But Mr Etemad says the US soon tried to impose conditions.
The Americans, he recalls, were initially supportive “because they thought they were going to be a partner of Iran in the application of nuclear technology.