U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes there is "a strong likelihood" that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June, according to the Washington Post's David Ignatius.Israel believes that after this time, Iran will have entered a “zone of immunity” that will enable it to build a nuclear bomb at its leisure, Ignatius wrote. Defense Minister Ehud Barak used the same words Thursday in his speech at the Herzliya Conference."Very soon,the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily," explained Ignatius. The U.S., however, does not intend to hit Iran until it has intelligence that Iran is actually building a bomb, and "Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action..."When Barak asked last month to postpone a planned U.S.-Israel military exercise, he may have been signaling that an Israeli attack is imminent, the senior journalist wrote. Barak "apologized that Israel couldn’t devote the resources to the annual exercise this spring."The White House hasn’t yet decided precisely how to react to an Israeli attack on Iran.
Ignatius quotes an Israeli official who reportedly told the U.S.: “You stay to the side, and let us do it.” The pundit mentions a “short-war” scenario that assumes five days or so of limited Israeli strikes, followed by a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. This, too, jibes with comments made yesterday by Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Benny Gantz.
U.S. officials don’t think that Netanyahu has made a final decision to attack, says Ignatius, but "senior Americans doubt that the Israelis are bluffing."
Claiming that all of Iran’s nuclear facilities are vulnerable and that a military option is real and ready to be used if sanctions fail, Israel’s top political and military leadership issued a series of warnings to the Islamic Republic on Thursday in some of the most candid comments on the nuclear threat in years.Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said there was a consensus among many nations today that if diplomacy and sanctions failed to stop Iran, a military strike should be launched.
Barak said he saw Iran as nearing a stage “which may render any physical strike as impractical."
“A nuclear Iran will be more complicated to deal with, more dangerous and more costly in blood than if it were stopped today,” he said. “In other words, he who says in English ‘later’ may find that ‘later is too late.’”Barak’s threat was backed up earlier in the day by Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon who said that Iran needed to be stopped “one way or another” and that a credible military threat needed to be on the table, a message also delivered by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday evening.
The term “immunity zone” has been coined by Barak in reference to Iran’s recent decision to activate the Fordow enrichment facility that is buried close to 100 meters under a mountain near the city of Qom. Barak has said in the past that Fordow could not be destroyed in a conventional military strike.According to the report, written by the paper’s senior opinion writer David Ignatius, Panetta is concerned that Israel will attack before Iran enters the so-called “immunity zone” when its nuclear facilities will be heavily fortified and a military strike will no longer succeed.“Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action,” Ignatius wrote.
Ya’alon also said that Turkey is helping Iran bypass the sanctions that have been imposed on it in recent months.
According to the vice premier, who was in the United States last week for talks on Iran with senior officials from the Obama administration, Turkey was helping Iran circumvent the sanctions by allowing it to use its banking system.
Iran has completed the development of a nuclear weapon and awaits nothing more than a sign from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to start assembling its first nuclear bomb, said Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi on Thursday, February 2.With 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent grade and another 4 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent already in stock, Iran would need another two years to make four nuclear bombs.Therefore, by the end of 2012 or early 2013 Iran may have a single nuclear bomb, but by 2015 the figure would jump to four or five.His comments coincided with the findings published Thursday by the Enterprise Institute, an American think tank, that Iran would be able to manufacture a 15-kiloton nuclear bomb as soon as August of this year, just seven months from now.Commenting on Iran's underground bunkers for nuclear facilities, the minister stressed that any facility built by man can be destroyed by man. "Speaking as a former chief of staff, I say none of Iran's installations are immune to attack," he said.
Turning to another threat, the military intelligence chief painted a grim picture of 200,000 rockets and missiles of assorted types pointing at Israel.
Wednesday, February 1, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz stressed that there is no longer any point on the Israeli map that is outside the range of enemy missiles.
According to Gen. Kochavi, Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas are dispersing their missiles and rockets to sites deep inland and integrated in urban environments to minimize their vulnerability to IDF attack. He warned "the enemy" had prepared increasing numbers of its missiles for "depth strikes against Israeli population centers, their warheads more lethal than ever."Turning to another threat, the military intelligence chief painted a grim picture of 200,000 rockets and missiles of assorted types pointing at Israel.Tuesday, Jan. 31, the IDF practiced mobilizing an armored division under war conditions,DEBKAfile's military sources report. The drill simulated moving the troops to conscription bases, arming them with equipment and weapons and getting them to battle lines – all under the heavy missile bombardment of military facilities, national highways and railway lines.