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Israel Threatens Iran

The Iranian nuclear threat has been known for years, but only now has it suddenly become a hot issue in Israel. PM Sharon: "We cannot allow a situation in which Iran becomes a nuclear power."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/5/2005, 10:39 AM / Last Update: 12/5/2005, 9:43 AM

Speaking at a joint press conference with his new political partner Shimon Peres on Sunday, Prime Minister Sharon said, "We see Iran as a great threat. This is an international problem, and not just ours. I think it's clear that we cannot allow a situation in which Iran becomes a nuclear power. Israel is not the one leading the process, but it is a partner with those countries that are concerned about this dangerous development. We are working together with Europe and the U.S. It seems to me that the most correct expression was that of President Bush who said, 'I don't think that this topic can be left on the agenda without fundamental treatment.'"

International Atomic Energy Agency Chairman Mohammed El Baradei told the British newspaper “The Independent” that once Iran resumes the enrichment of uranium, it will be only “a few months” away from manufacturing an atomic bomb. El Baradei estimates that the Iranians will resume uranium enrichment at its reactor in Bantaz over the next few days.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said on Sunday that he does not believe that diplomacy will solve the problem of the Iranian threat. Speaking with members of the foreign press in Tel Aviv, Halutz said he does not believe American and European pressure on Iran regarding ongoing nuclear enrichment efforts will bear fruit.

The IDF commander pointed out that Iran has continued its nuclear program to date, despite international pressure.

MK Dr. Yuval Shteinitz (Likud), Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that Israel must take seriously a warning by an Iranian official that Tehran is working towards establishing 20 nuclear reactors.

The head of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, has said that Iran has issued permits for the construction of another 20 nuclear power plants. Two are slated to be built in March 2006.

Shteinitz added that Iran is seeking to become a global nuclear power, working toward building tens of nuclear weapons in the coming years.

Iran reacted with threats of its own. "Israel knows that if it takes a mistaken step, it will be met with a strong response from Iran," said a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran. "Israel's declarations are influenced from the internal crisis of the Zionists, and its threats indicate that it is an element that endangers the region."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, a candidate for Chairman of the Likud Party, was asked this morning on Army Radio why this issue has suddenly come to the fore. Does it have something to do with the current election, he was asked? "You'll have to ask those who brought it up," he responded. "I have been dealing with this issue for a long time, trying to get it on the United Nations agenda. Up until about two months ago, it was thought that this was only Israel's problem - but now the world is realizing that Iran is also manufacturing missiles that can reach London, Rome, Paris, and Madrid."