Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Ya'alon: Military strike may be needed to stop Iran nukes
Strategic affairs minister calls on "entire civilized world...to take joint action to avert the nuclear threat posed by Iran."
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon called on the world to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, by all means necessary, including a military strike, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Ya'alon made the comments in an interview to Russian news agency Interfax ahead of a visit to Moscow.
"We strongly hope that the entire civilized world will come to realize what threat this regime is posing and take joint action to avert the nuclear threat posed by Iran, even if it would be necessary to conduct a pre-emptive strike," Yaalon said. Ya'alon emphasized that not only Israel would be endangered by a nuclear-armed Iran. "An Iran possessing nuclear weapons would be a threat to the entire civilized world," he stated.
Western analysts say increasingly tough sanctions on Iran as well as the Stuxnet virus and possible other sabotage have delayed Iran's nuclear progress, even though they say the country now has enough low-enriched uranium for two bombs if refined more.
Enriched uranium can be used to fuel power plants, Iran's stated aim, or provide bomb material if processed much further.
Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, said last week that "the totality of the evidence indicates beyond reasonable doubt" that Iran was seeking a capability to make such weapons.
If Iran decided to "weaponize" enrichment, it would need about 16 months to yield the first bomb's worth of highly enriched uranium at its Natanz enrichment facility, if all centrifuge machines were used for this purpose, he said.
At least six months would then be required to fashion the highly-refined uranium into a weapon, Fitzpatrick added. Developing a missile to deliver it would add to the timeline, the former senior US State Department official said.
An IAEA report last week said it had received new information about possible illicit military dimensions to Iran's nuclear activities
"The latest IAEA report includes evidence that what originally were thought to be just paper studies also include actual experiments, including on triggers for a nuclear weapon," Fitzpatrick said.
Reuters contributed to this report.