Dr. Ephraim Asculai, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, said on Thursday that he doubts the sanctions being imposed on Iran will lead its leaders to give up the country's nuclear weapons program. He predicted that Iran could have nuclear weapons within a year.
Dr. Asculai told Arutz Sheva that the sanctions imposed so far on Iran, whether by the UN Security Council or by the United States and other Western countries, have yet to have a real effect.
“We still do not see that the Iranians are willing to be flexible on critical matters, even though the West is willing to accept flexibility,” he said, adding that the Iranian stubbornness is motivated by its desire to produce nuclear weapons quickly.
Asculai also mentioned the Iranian national pride, saying, “Conceding to the West without getting something in return is out of the question for them. He added that in light of these two parameters “the sanctions are not severe enough.”
He also added that Iran’s ability to withstand the sanctions depends quite a bit on the internal politics in the country.
“While Iran's economy depends on oil exports, as a huge country it has other capabilities as well. It produces food, etc. The question is how much the people are willing to suffer,” said Asculai, adding that with the religious rule in Iran it is doubtful the Iranian people will succeed in revolting.
As for the Iranian nuclear capability, Asculai predicted that the Iranians could produce a nuclear bomb within a year.
“Today they can achieve nuclear weapons,” he said. “They have all the skills and materials required. The question is how fast they can do it and how many bombs they can produce.”
On Wednesday, the United States Congress passed a new package of sanctions against Iran. The sanctions aim to punish banks, insurance companies and shippers that help Tehran sell its oil.
A day earlier, President Barack Obama announced U.S. sanctions against foreign banks that help Iran sell its oil, specifically citing China's Bank of Kunlun and an Iraqi bank.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Israel on Wednesday and assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that America will prevent Iran from “ever acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
“I want to reassert again the position of the United States that with regards to Iran: We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period. We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen,” Panetta said during a joint press conference with Netanyahu.
Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy warned on Thursday that Israel is likely to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities in a matter of weeks.
Speaking to the New York Times, Halevy said, “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”