Thursday, May 18, 2006

Strike Iran Now

WND Exclusive
Knesset member: Strike Iran now
Warns if U.S., others don't take action, Israel should act alone

Posted: May 18, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2006

JERUSALEM – Israel and the international community should consider carrying out strategic strikes now against Iran's nuclear facilities to stall its suspected uranium enrichment activities, Israeli Knesset member Effie Eitam told WND yesterday during an interview.

Knesset Member Effie Eitam

Eitam, chairman of the National Union Party and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, warned Israel would need to attack Iran by itself if the international community led by the United States fails to successfully halt Tehran's nuclear program within about a year.

He blasted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's administration for "failing to devise a coherent strategy toward Iran" and urged Israel to immediately make public a doctrine of deterrence that would assure "total destruction" of Iran should it contemplate a first strike against the Jewish state.

"Iran is now at that kind of bottleneck junction where strategic sites that are known can be relatively easily and safely attacked with the goal of causing maximum delay," said Eitam. "Strikes now can stall the entire nuclear process by many years."

The Knesset member, a former Israeli Defense Forces general, said Israel may need to act alone against Iran.

"With or without a world coalition, Israel will have to take action at some point when we are fully sure Iran's nuclear project is coming to a point of no return," he said. " I am worried all mechanisms of diplomacy used by the Iranians in response to the international movement against it are to buy time as they camouflage the real nature of their programs."

Asked to offer a timeline for the point at which he feels Israel would have to strike Iran by itself, Eitam replied, "We are talking about the period when Iran would have enough uranium to build a bomb. The information indicates this is not long away. Six months to a year or not much more.

"It is clear Iran is already starting to enrich uranium, and they are nearing the completion of technology necessary to assemble weapons. It is true they may leave quantities of uranium unpacked and not processed as weapons-grade for a time, but they can soon bring themselves to the point where they can make weapons within short periods of time."

Iran is openly defying international calls to halt uranium enrichment activities. After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was inaugurated last August, the country rejected European proposals aimed at curbing its nuclear programs and resumed nuclear projects, reopening a major uranium conversion plant in Isfahan. In January, Iran escalated the international confrontation by removing U.N. seals at one of its uranium-enrichment plants and resuming nuclear research.

Eitam deemed Iran "an international problem – by far not just an Israeli problem. The Iran leadership threatens the entire free world. It is a source of evil and not just a typical enemy. This evil will not compromise. It is best if it is destroyed physically. If the world doesn't act by a certain point, then Israel must."

So far, Tehran has scorned most diplomatic initiatives. Yesterday, it rejected an EU proposal to cease uranium enrichment in exchange for economic incentives and the construction of a light-water energy reactor. Unlike the heavy-water plant Iran is building in the city of Arak, a light-water reactor wouldn't produce plutonium – another ingredient for weapons – as a waste product. Such a reactor would still need enriched uranium for fuel, though, which could be refined to weapons-grade material.

Eitam said military action is the best assurance against Iran's nuclear program.

"With diplomacy and agreements you can never be sure unless the diplomacy comes to a point where the Iranians agree to dismantle their nuclear projects under intense international supervision. This looks extremely unlikely after so many years of negligence [by the U.S., Israel and Europe]. There is no second to physical destruction of Iran's facilities," said Eitam.

Security analysts contend any Israeli or international strike against Iran would result in retaliatory attacks by Palestinian terror groups and by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which is stationed alongside Israel's northern border and boasts it has over 10,000 missiles pointed at the country's civilian population centers.

But Eitam, who predicted Iran would also retaliate against international interests, said Israel is prepared for the expected onslaught of violence.

"We are ready to defend ourselves against Hezbollah and are quite adept at dealing with terrorism," he said. "These Iranian threats are very cheap prices to pay relative to what an Iranian nuclear threat represents for the future of the state of Israel. The entire world may have some tough times while the Iranians try to retaliate by using terror internationally, hijacking embassies, targeting innocents like at nightclubs in Europe."

The Knesset member went on to blast Olmert and the current Israeli administration for what he said was "gross negligence" at failing to counter the Iranian threat.

"I am extremely skeptical as far as Olmert, [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz and [Foreign Minister Tzipi] Livni being able to revive and renew a credible Israeli policy toward Iran. So far they are paralyzed. They have no program. They are just waiting for a miracle or for someone else to act. In a very short time if Olmert fails to provide a new approach, the real question becomes whether he should continue to be allowed to govern."

Eitam recommended Israel make public a policy of deterrence he says would render an Iranian first strike against Israel useless.

"It is crucial to change Israel's current policy of vagueness to open deterrence. It needs to be made clear to the Iranians that Israel will not be the only country destroyed if it is attacked. Even if the Iranians have weapons, they wont enjoy any strategic advantage because Israeli deterrence will be clear and credible. They wont even think about destroying Israel because doing so will place them under the fear of being totally destroyed, too."

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