Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Defense Minister Ehud Barak Israel news photo: Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak explained on Thursday why it is important that the issue of Iran's nuclear program be resolved as soon as possible.

Barak spoke at a Knesset discussion during which Avi Dichter was sworn in as Home Front Defense Minister. During the meeting, criticism was leveled at Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu by members of the opposition for the way they are dealing with the Iranian issue.

Barak, however, made it clear that dealing with a nuclear Iran would be infinitely more dangerous and more expensive.

“There are risks in the situation today, it's not simple, not risk-free,” said Barak and stressed that on the other hand, “It's infinitely more dangerous, complicated, complex and costly in human lives and resources to deal with a nuclear Iran in the future.”

He clarified that the government will be the body that will decide on the matter. “The prime minister and defense minister and foreign minister have authority, we have the forum of nine senior ministers, there is a cabinet and the decision, when the time comes, will be made by the Israeli government. That is how it always was and that is how it should be. Not groups of citizens and not even editorials [will make the decision].”

Barak added, “I have been sitting for many years in government meetings. I say to you,  members of the Knesset and the public, there is no issue - neither peace nor war – that has been discussed at this depth, in such detail, time after time in government, inside closed rooms, in an open and responsive manner and in a more transparent manner than ever before. That does not mean that there is no controversy, but the subject is being discussed.”

There has been continued speculation that Israel is close to striking in Iran. Some have speculated that such an attack by Israel could likely occur in September or October.

Israel’s former national security adviser, Uzi Dayan, told The New York Times on Wednesday that Netanyahu and Barak have not yet decided to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and could be dissuaded from a strike, if President Barack Obama approved stricter sanctions and publicly confirmed his willingness to use military force.

Prior to Barak’s remarks, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz attacked Netanyahu over the reports about a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

“Mr. Prime Minister, you are creating panic,” he said. “You are trying to scare us and horrify us. And the truth is - we really are afraid. We are afraid of your lack of judgment, we are afraid that you are being led rather than leading, we are afraid that you are implementing a dangerous and irresponsible policy.”