Israel has been saying for years now that it will only be a matter of years before Iran acquires nuclear weapons. On November 8 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that they "highly doubt" Iran's claim that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. Iran despite prior U.S. intelligence reports has continued to develop components to manufacture nuclear weapons. These include neutron initiators, the device that triggers the nuclear chain reaction, and the complex explosives necessary to manufacture a warhead that can fit on top of a a ballistic missile. According to the report, Tehran has openly increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. This stockpile of low-enriched uraninum can be further refined into weapons grade uranimum. If the IAEA's "suspicions" are accurate, Iran may have the technology and material to build a nuclear bomb within months.
Tehran said the report was untrue. Ben Rhodes, traveling with President Obama to the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Hawaii, said there's nothing to doubt about the report.
The typical argument is "well if the U.S. has nuclear arms and so does Israel well why shouldn't Iran?" The answer is simple. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons it dramatically increases the probability of a nuclear war between itself and Israel. The disparity in the size of their respective nuclear arsenal -- as Iran would only have a few nuclear warheads compared to Israel's estimated 100 to 200 -- both Iran and Israel have an incentive to strike first, in the event of a crisis.
Israel, at this point, likely believes that the "window" in which it can strike Iran and wipe out most of the countries' nuclear weapons program is closing. Israel's very survival is at stake if Iran obtains nucleaer weapons -- as the country's leadership has vowed to "wipe Israel off the map." The lack of of early warning systems and the extreme short time for missiles heading from either country to the other only increases the perception of danger to both countires. This increased pressure on the countries' leaderships heightens the pressure to "act quickly" - further increasing the risk that one of the countries will "strike first."
As Iran gets closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon the opportunity for the United States to influence the country will decrease. The U.S. current approach to Iran clearly has not worked and Obama is exploring other options. Obama, speaking at a press conference after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii yesterday, defended current U.S. sanctions against Iran stating that they have 'enormous bite' and wants to work with Russia and China to determine other methods to halt Irans nuclear program. Both China and Russia have remained silent on the issue.
The Obama administration must be taking this recent report, and other reports he has received seriously, and understand the risk that a "nuclear Iran" would pose to the world Obama as he stated 'We will be consulting with them carefully over the next several weeks to look at what other options we have available to us.' Obama has not ruled out taking military action agains Iran though he clearly favors a diplomatic solution, stating, 'We are not taking any options off the table. Iran with nuclear weapons would pose a threat not only to the region but also to the United States." Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication to Obama said the report demands an international response. Obama added, the Russians and Chinese both understand that I'll be working with them to formulate a response.
The Chinese and Russian reluctance to further engage at this point has Israel refusing to reassure President Obama that it would notify him before Israel takes unilateral military action against raising fears that they may already have a plan of attack that could be conducted as early as the next northern summer. "Alarmed by Mr Netanyahu's noncommittal response, Mr Obama reportedly ordered the US intelligence services to step up monitoring of Israel to glean clues of its intentions." Almost two weeks ago Israel tested a missile capable of reaching Iran. This was Israel's first such test since 2008.
"Israel is certainly capable of handling this and has the capability, the range, the technology to take care of Iran and make sure that this rogue regime, with its lunatic president who denied the Holocaust while preparing the next one, will not get a nuclear weapon," said former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dan Gillerman.
In related news it was reported today that the Israeli' Mossad were behind the recent Iran blast that killed 17 people in a missile factory. "Blogger Richard Silverstein claims Israel orchestrated explosion that killed 17 at Iranian missile storage facility, in collaboration with local militant group." According to Ynet.com, Silverstein reports on his blog that "it is widely known within intelligence circles that the Israelis use the, [the Iranian millitant opposition group], for varied acts of espionage and terror ranging from fraudulent Iranian memos alleging work on nuclear trigger devices to assassinations of nuclear scientists and bombings of sensitive military installations."
The Reality and Mythic Narrative of War Collide interesting narrative on who has Weapons of Mass Destruction and who does not and what this may mean.