Tuesday, April 28, 2009
As Israel and the US continue on a collision course over Iran, Tel Aviv says it hopes to put an end to Iran’s nuclear activities with a “heroic operation”.
In an interview with Haaretz, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak drew a parallel between Iran’s nuclear program and that of Iraq in the Saddam Hussein era and hoped for a similar end to the Iranian program.
In 1981, Israel bombed a French-built nuclear plant near Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, in an operation that became the world’s first air strike against a nuclear plant.
The Israelis said they believed the 70-megawatt uranium-powered Osirak reactor was designed to make nuclear weapons to destroy Israel — a charge similar to the one it levels against Iran.
“We say we are not removing any option from the table. We have a tendency to hope for a heroic operation that will end everything, as with the bombing of the Iraqi reactor in 1981,” Barak explained about the Israeli stance on Iran’s long-running nuclear dispute.
However, the Israeli official drew a line between the “Iraqi threat” and the “Iranian threat” by portraying the Iranian one as much graver.
“In the Iraqi case there was one target that existed and was working, and a surgical strike eliminated it… Here we are up against something far more complex, sophisticated and extensive,” he said.
Ever since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President Barack Obama signaled willingness for direct talks between the United States and Iran in an effort to end thirty years of diplomatic hostility, Tel Aviv and Washington have edged toward having a falling-out.
Despite the Israeli disgruntlement at Washington’s fresh diplomatic approach toward Iran and its nuclear activities, Barak acknowledged that Israel is “not in a position of being able to tell the Americans whether to talk to the Iranians.”
However, the Israeli minister went on to draw up guidelines for the Obama White House on how to approach the Iranian side.
“I told them negotiations should be short and have a deadline, accompanied by ‘soft’ sanctions such as limitations on money transfers, while preparing the ground for harsh sanctions that involve authorizing action afterward. This has to be done in deep cooperation with the Russians and the Chinese,” Barak said.
Barak’s stance toward the US administration’s Iran policy came in line with that of Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon made public earlier on Monday.
Ya’alon said the allegedly new US policy toward Tehran would be a “waste of time” without a threat of military action and warned that if talks fail to put an end to Iranian enrichment activities, a unilateral strike against the country’s nuclear infrastructure would be looming on the horizon.
“We need to hope that the job will be done by someone else and at the same time, as the Talmudic sage Hillel said, ‘If I am not for myself who will be?'” he said, signaling Israeli willingness to go to war with or without White House support.
While the incessant Israeli calls for war on Iran have so far run into stiff opposition in the US, a report by RIA Novosti exposed a new under-consideration contingency plan by the Obama administration on the issue.
According to the report, the Obama White House is mulling over whether to impose sanctions on Tel Aviv should Israel go ahead with a unilateral attack on Iran.
This article was posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 3:44 am