Iran pulls back from nuclear bomb goal: Israeli defense minister

LONDON Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:42pm EDT

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem October 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Hollander/Pool

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem October 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Hollander/Pool

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LONDON (Reuters) - Iran has drawn back from its ambitions to build a nuclear weapon, Israel's defense minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday, while warning that his country may still have to decide next year whether to launch a military strike against it.

Tehran denies its nuclear work has any military dimensions but governments in Europe and the United States are increasingly concerned over its intentions.

Diplomacy and successive rounds of economic sanctions have so far failed to end the decade-old row, raising fears of Israeli military action against its arch-enemy.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that an immediate crisis was avoided when Iran chose to use more than a third of its medium-enriched uranium for civilian purposes earlier this year.

He told the paper that the decision "allows contemplating delaying the moment of truth by eight to ten months".

"There could be at least three explanations. One is the public discourse about a possible Israeli or American operation deterred them from trying to come closer," he said.

"It could probably be a diplomatic gambit that they have launched in order to avoid this issue culminating before the American election, just to gain some time. It could be a way of telling the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) 'oh we comply with our commitments'."

Analysts say Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium for several nuclear bombs if it were refined to a high degree, but may still be a few years away from being able to assemble a missile if it decided to go down that path.

Western diplomats say Iran appears to have nearly finished installing centrifuges at an underground nuclear plant, potentially boosting its capacity to make weapons-grade uranium if it chose to do so.

Asked by the British newspaper whether, if Iran had not pulled back, the crisis would have peaked "about now", Barak said: "Probably yes". He added however that he believed Iran was still resolved to build nuclear weapons.

"We all agree that the Iranians are determined to turn into a military nuclear power and we all share the declaration that we are determined to prevent Iran from turning nuclear and all options are on the table," he was quoted as saying.

"We mean it - we expect others to mean it as well. So it's not something just about us. But we, for obvious reasons, see the Iranian threat in much more concrete terms."

He said Israel reserved the right to act alone.

"When it comes to the very core of our security interests and, in a way, the future of Israel, we cannot delegate the responsibility for making decisions even into the hands of our most trusted and trustworthy ally," he told the Telegraph.

"It doesn't mean that we would be sorry if the Iranians come to the conclusion on their own. The opposite is true. But, if no one acts, we will have to contemplate action."

(Reporting by Maria Golovnina; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (4)
nixonfan wrote:
If Iran is not seeking to have long-range nuclear missiles, why is it building long-range missiles? Do they plan to put propaganda leaflets in the warhead? The Shahab-3 can reach Israel, almost. What more evidence do we need?

Oct 30, 2012 2:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DeanMJackson wrote:
As the Israeli defense minister knows, Iran has had operational intermediate range nuclear weapons since late 1992. They were acquired from Kazakhstan:

“In late 1991, only months after Kazakhstan had become ‘independent’, and during the period of maximum confusion in the West over the nature of the ‘changes’ ostensibly taking place in the ‘former’ USSR, Iran purchased its first operational nuclear weapons, primarily from Kazakhstan. Iranian intelligence agents brought the weapons and related
materials via Turkestan, and ‘ex’-Soviet experts were brought in as troubleshooters. By the end of January 1992, the operational status of the weapons had been confirmed. At roughly the same time, Iran acquired parts for the Soviet aerial nuclear gravity bomb from ‘former’ Soviet military depots in the Turkestan Military District and Tajikistan, where key details of the purchase were apparently negotiated. Iran is also believed to possess a nuclear artillery shell of 0.1 kiloton yield, which was offered to Iran by Kazakhstan during negotiations in the region for the other nuclear devices. [Sources: The Grand
Strategy of Iran', Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, US Congress, Washington DC, in 'Global Affairs', Fall issue, 1993; 'Security Affairs', published by Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs [JINSA], Washington DC, June 1992, citing a 1992 report by the Task Force). The deception related to the channelling of this Soviet nuclear weapons technology via newly ‘independent’ ‘ex’-Soviet Republics -leaving Russia, as the continuing signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, with ‘clean hands’ in the matter. Moreover, while these very transactions were being finalised, the West hastened with
enthusiasm to become embroiled in ‘collective security’ arrangements which were widely justified as being necessary, in part,
to curb nuclear proliferation.

At a meeting in the House of Commons in on 27 April 1994, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Britain, Sergui Komis-arenko, told MPs that Kazakhstan could not have transferred fully-operational [sic] nuclear weapons to Iran [source: information conveyed to the Editor by Christopher Gill MP (Ludlow), who attended the meeting].” — Editor’s note, “The Perestroika Deception”, KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn (1995).

Note the careful wording of the Ukrainian ambassador!

It truly amazes me that there is so much false information reported by the news media. Nothing has changed since the Magna Carta. We the public are still lied to because the “news media” only reports what a government tells it, knowing that governments lie.

Oct 30, 2012 3:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
It’s amazing that Barak and Co have any credibility internationally, let alone the amount, and control they do have.
How did that happen?

Oct 30, 2012 3:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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