Israel - Iran threat dwarfs all others

2012-08-12 18:08
Iran nuclear facility

Iran nuclear facility

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jerusalem - The threat from Iran dwarfs all other challenges the Jewish state faces, Israel's prime minister declared on Sunday, as high-level hints of a possible Israeli attack on Iran's suspect nuclear programme mounted.

One indirect indication came on Sunday, when Israel's military began sending mock text messages to cellphones warning of incoming missiles, part of a nationwide experiment that is to continue through Thursday and reach hundreds of thousands of cellphone users.

Last week, defence officials confirmed that Israel's top-tier missile defence system has been upgraded.

"All threats directed at the Israeli home front are dwarfed by another threat, different in its magnitude and substance, and so I have repeated and shall repeat: Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday.

The prime minister's opening statement at the Cabinet meeting is open to reporters, providing him with a channel for a weekly public message.

Sceptics say Israel is rattling its sabres as part of a diplomatic campaign but would hesitate to actually attack Iran, because of the real possibility that it could trigger an all-out war targeting Israel from several directions at once.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and designed to produce energy and medical isotopes, but Israel, like much of the international community, thinks it could be a cover to build bombs.

Netanyahu said earlier this month that Israel has not decided whether to launch an attack. But he and other leading Israeli officials have noted that tough international sanctions have not pressured Iran to abandon its suspect uranium enrichment programme - a process that has civilian uses but could also be used to build bombs.

Some senior officials have suggested in the past that Israel cannot wait beyond early fall to strike, as Iran moves key facilities into fortified underground bunkers out of the reach of Israeli bombs.

Time running out

Over the weekend, a senior "decision-maker" widely identified as Defence Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by an Israeli newspaper as saying that "the sword hanging over our neck today is a lot sharper than the sword that hung over our neck" before the Jewish state went to war with three Arab nations in 1967.

Although Israeli leaders haven't explicitly threatened to attack, they have been saying for years that they would not tolerate a nuclear Iran, and "all options are on the table." The US has a similar policy.

Standing beside US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this month, Netanyahu warned that time was quickly running out to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

The United States has said it would be prepared to use military force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. But with its superior fire power, it could wait longer than Israel could to strike at Iran's underground facilities, and experts have judged Washington has more than a year to act.

Another factor in the timing could be the US presidential election in November, where a Mideast flare-up sending oil prices soaring could harm President Barack Obama's re-election chances.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said over the weekend that Obama "remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," but that the US still thinks there is time to persuade Iran through sanctions and diplomacy.

While Netanyahu and Barak have concentrated on the perceived nuclear threat, critics of an attack - including a recently retired spymaster and previous internal security chief - have warned of its repercussions.

At best, they say, Israel could set back Iran's nuclear development for two to three years, and at worst, trigger a harsh retaliation from Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza - and possibly set off a region-wide war.

Read more on:    benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  iran  |  iran nuclear programme

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.