Barak: Iran is testing uranium- and plutonium-based bombs – not tactical arms
DEBKAfile Special Report November 17, 2011, 11:21 AM (GMT+02:00)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose Wednesday, Nov. 16 that none of the experiments Iran was conducting was based on a neutron source. "It's always simultaneous explosions on heavy metals and certain other activities which cannot be explained," he said.
DEBKAfile's military sources note his stress on the lack of evidence that Iran was trying to develop tactical neutron bombs. Tehran, he said, was experimenting with uranium- and plutonium- based explosives, meaning large nuclear bombs rather than small, tactical warheads.
Barak slammed former IAEA director Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, who is now running for election as Egyptian president, accusing him of concealing the truth about Iran's nuclear development. He praised the incumbent director, Yukiya Amano, for leveling on what his experts had found.
Barak offered the opinion that if the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had not relinquished his nuclear program in 2003 but attained a nuclear bomb instead, the March 2011 NATO operation against him would not have been ordered either by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi or British Prime Minister David Cameron.
As to Iraq's Saddam Hussain: Had he possessed "a few crude nuclear devices when he invaded Kuwait in 1990," said Barak, the US-led coalition could not have pushed him out of the emirate in the first Gulf War.
In the interview, Barak warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would touch off a Middle East nuclear arms race drawing in Egypt and less responsible regimes headed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
"You could wake up one morning," he said, "to find Iran had occupied Bahrain or Qatar. Who then would come and liberate them?"
Barak declined to answer questions about the feasibility of totally destroying the Iranian nuclear program.
He also offered no opinion on the view that a military operation against Iran would gain no more than a three-year breathing space before Tehran rebuilt its nuclear weapons program, a view recently articulated by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
He was far from optimistic about international sanctions stopping Iran in its nuclear tracks.
The defense minister went on to warmly praised President Barack Obama and his administration's commitment to Israel's security and said "Under this administration we have advanced still further into a clear, deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and beyond."
He also praised the administration's policy of combating terrorism, such as the targeting of Osama bin Laden.
Wednesday night, debkafile reported: A short statement was read out to the Knesset (Israel's parliament by cabinet member Michael Eitan Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 16. It read: "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu informed the full Knesset plenum that all options are on the table when it comes to Iran's nuclear program. The prime minister and the authorized bodies are acting to stop the nuclear armament of Iran. The efforts are ongoing and we will do everything possible to enlist states in the international community, "he continued "because the Iranian threat is adanger not only to the State of Israel but to world peace."
The Knesset was due to devote a special session to the question of an attack on Iran.
debkafile's military sources report that this is the first statement of this nature the prime minister has ever delivered to Israel's parliament. It was phrased notably in the present tense. "The authorized bodies" are thought to refer to the Israeli Defense Forces and its intelligence community.
Also worth noting is that Netanyahu sent a minister to read out his message. He himself absent from this key debate and so was the defense minister. For the first time too, there was no reference to sanctions which have figured hitherto in all Israeli official statements on the Iranian nuclear controversy.
The implication is that an operation against a nuclear Iran may be in the works. If so, a response from Tehran is to be expected shortly.
Earlier Wednesday, the supreme commander of Iran's armed forces Gen. Hassan Firouz-Abadi said Israel's cries of alarm about Iran's nuclear development bespeak shock and fear. But nothing will save the Zionist regime from its bitter fate – a hint at Iran's nuclear capability.
Firouz-Abadi said the massive explosion which killed Iran's missile chief Saturday "had nothing to do with Israel or America." It took place during "research on weapons that could strike Israel," adding that the blast had delayed by only two weeks the development of an undisclosed military "product."
The two statements together aroused lively speculation in the tense climate left by the latest nuclear watchdog agency's evidence of Iran's work on a nuclear weapon. Linking them might suggest that the Israeli prime minister had decided to refute the Iranian general's claim. By stating that "efforts are ongoing" to stop Iran's nuclear armament, he may have been implying that the explosion at the Guards base Saturday was indeed a covert Israeli operation in line with those efforts.