Jan 31 2006
My biggest concern about the Iranian bravado has been it is a dumb game to play if they did not yet have a nuclear warhead of some kind. They saw how bluffing the US worked for Saddam. The Mullah’s may be mad – but they are not stupid. Now some are saying what I suspected and feared:
Rafi Eitan suspects that Iran already has enough enriched uranium fissionable material to manufacture at least one or two atom bombs of the Hiroshima type. “Otherwise Iranian President Ahmadinejad would not have dared come out with his declaration that Israel should be wiped off the map,” repeating it in various versions. His efforts at denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were slaughtered prove that there is method in Ahmadinejad’s madness. “Don’t treat him like a madman,” Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz recently cautioned.
Eitan’s assessment of the situation is especially important because of his extensive intelligence experience in Israel’s struggle for its existence, even before its establishment in 1948. Eitan was among those that laid the operational foundations for the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad.
Eitan told me: “I am convinced that the Iranians already have at least one or two nuclear devices. They have been operating centrifuges for a number of years now, they have natural uranium, and who on earth believes the Iranians when they say that they have closed down one facility or another? You would have to be an idiot or terribly na ve to believe them.”
Eitan says that this view was bolstered by conversations he held with various experts from abroad who came to the Herzliya Conference – that Iran already has a an atom bomb. What should concern not only Israel but Europe too, continues Eitan, is the fact that the Iranians have acquired cruise missiles with a 3,000-kilometer range. They tried to purchase nine missiles of this kind in Ukraine from the arsenal of the former Soviet Union, but Russia thwarted part of the deal and Iran received three or four such missiles.
This game of chicken is getting very dangerous. My guess is this will be a main topic of the SOTU if the Iranian threat is real or near to real.