Bolton: Israel May Have to Strike Iran Soon

Fmr. U.N. ambassador says chances Bush will order strike are 'close to zero.' Minister Mofaz: 'This is a historic time, all means are justified.'

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Gil Ronen,

John Bolton
John Bolton

Former American Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton hinted broadly Tuesday that Israel will have to strike Iran's nuclear program on its own, and soon. Speaking at the Eighth Herzliya Conference, Bolton said an Israeli strike could be the last resort against Iran. Former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who also spoke at the conference, hinted that the military option is growing more likely with time.



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Ambassador Bolton devoted the first part of his speech to an attempt to push the Israeli press into revealing details of the strike against the suspected Syrian nuclear facility four months ago. "There is a lot that we don't know about the facility because of the veil of secrecy that the Israel government and the American government have tried to throw over it," he said.

"We don't know for example exactly what the facility was – whether it was a clone of the Yongbyon reactor; whether it was a uranium enrichment facility; whether it was a storage location for North Korean plutonium or plutonium based weapons," he added, and explained that he could speak freely at the conference because the American Constitution's First Amendment applied to him even when he was abroad (this elicited laughter from the audience).

Bolton calls Israeli press 'timid'
Bolton went on to list his conjectures: "We don't know if it was North Korea in effect renting space in Syria to recreate the North Korean program. We don't know if it was a sale of technology or equipment from North Korea directly to Syria and we don't know whether it was a joint venture perhaps between Syria and North Korea working together," he said. "Our governments, however, do know the answers to some of these questions."

He continued with a jab at Israel's media: "What I don't understand really is the timid nature of the Isr
What I don't understand really is the timid nature of the Israeli press which I know knows a lot more about this strike than it's been willing to talk about.
aeli press which I know knows a lot more about this strike than it's been willing to talk about. I am sure somewhere in the Israeli press there is a John Peter Zengler who is willing to risk something in order to give the public more information about this."

John Peter Zengler was an 18th century publisher who was arrested for libelous sedition after printing criticism of the governor of New York and then acquitted, in what is considered a landmark trial in the development of the freedom of the press in the U.S.

Bolton explained that this information is being withheld for fear that if it came out that North Korea once again, following its game plan, was engaged in nuclear proliferation contrary to its obligations, it would embarrass the U.S. which is seeking ways to back off of North Korea.

Iran 'noticed' IAF raid
Regarding the IAF Syria raid, Bolton said: "The daring and successful Israeli military strike… has obvious significance for the potential of a military strike against Iran's nuclear program. I think, given the debacle caused by our National Intelligence Estimate, that it's close to zero likelihood that President Bush will authorize use of military force against Iran's program before he leaves office, absent some dramatic new development."

He concluded: "Certainly in Teheran you can bet that they took careful notice of what the Israeli Defense Force did. Penetrating Russian supplied radars very similar to the air defenses that Teheran has; using techniques that could be very useful for a long range strike against Iran; this is the kind of operation that the Iranians need
Iran may be leading in points but the final whistle is still far ahead.
to continue to worry about. Because I think with the collapse of American policy, the Israeli strike against the Syrian / North Korea facility is the harbinger of what may be – absent regime change in Teheran – the last resort… Unless you are prepared to see Iran proceed unmolested toward a nuclear weapons capability, which this NIE has given them free rein to do in my judgment, you are coming very close to a decision point in this country of whether you will use military force to stop Iran." 

Mofaz: next 2 years critical
Minister Shaul Mofaz hinted that Israel may indeed attack in Iran in order to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Mofaz noted that the warming of relations between Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia with Iran is "moving fast very quickly, while the world not only is not moving ahead – it is moving backwards."

"This reality," Mofaz said, "is a clear deterioration in the effort to halt Iran by diplomatic means and therefore the likelihood of the other options rises." He did cite a window of opportunity for diplomacy, however: "We have to find other ways to renew the momentum which ha
This time, no leader will be able to say 'we didn't know, we didn't understand.'
s weakened… The diplomatic timetable is getting shorter, the next two years are critical to halt Iran using diplomatic methods," he estimated. 

Mofaz added: "Reality is complex but the picture is very clear: Iran may be leading in points but the final whistle is still far ahead… It is clear that the current trend must be reversed; and all the means are justified. This is a historical time… This time, no leader will be able to say 'we didn't know, we didn't understand the importance of this time.' The world must do everything that is necessary in order to assure a future of peace and prosperity for the next generations as well."