The chief of Israel’s army has warned that a nuclear-powered Iran poses a grave threat not only to the Jewish state, but to the entire Middle East.
However, Binyamin Benny Gantz, the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), also said that the danger can be met head on through appropriate preparations.
According to Israeli media, Gantz told high school students in Be’er Tuvia in the southern part of the country: Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and this topic should concern us. With proper international and Israeli preparations, this challenge can be met, and [allow us] to stay here as to fulfill the Zionist dream for dozens and hundreds of years to come.”
In addition, the army boss warned: Israel is the only country in the world which is under a threat of annihilation by a country working to that end, but the threat is not only on Israel but the entire region and other parts of the world.
He also added that revolutions across the Arab world could prompt the strengthening of radical Islamic movements in the region – yet another danger for Israel.
I would be happy if this phenomenon [revolt] leads to democratic neighboring countries, but in case of negative developments there is room for concern, Gantz said.
Meanwhile, worries about Iran and its potential for developing nuclear weapons moved into a new phase after the country’s naval officials warned that they would block the Strait of Hormuz (the key crude oil trans-shipment waterway between Iran and the Arab oil emirates) if the US and Europe persist with their sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Tehran also said they will begin testing long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf.
There has long festered speculation that Israel may seek to launch an attack on Iran to scuttle its atomic weapons program, much like they have done in the past with Syria and Iraq.
A few days ago Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi warned that if Israel dared attempted such an attack; it would be tantamount to suicide.
However, Israel’s defense spy chief recently downplayed the threat that Iran poses.
According to the Washington Times, Tamir Pardo, the chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, does not think a nuclear-armed would immediately mean the extinction of Israel.
“If you said a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands was an ‘existential’ threat [to Israel], that would mean that we would have to close up shop,” he reportedly told a group of ambassadors. “That’s not the situation. The term is used too freely.”
Still, many believe that an Israeli attack on Iran is likely before too long.
Daniel Korski of the European Council on Foreign Relations wrote in a column for the British publication Spectator that an Israeli move against Iran is not outside the realm of possibility, despite all the logistical and geopolitical ramifications of such a strike.
“There are reasons why 2012 could, indeed, be the year when Israel will find it propitious to take overt military action against Iran's nuclear program,” he wrote.
“Everyone assumes that a range of covert activities, from assassinations to cyber attacks, are already ongoing. The Iranian government is moving closer to having the requisite capabilities, and can reasonably be expected to take the final steps towards nuclearization. What better way for Tehran to distract attention from their burgeoning problems — including sanctions, economic hardship, the risk of renewed protest, and possible conflict inside the regime — than to declare that it has become a nuclear power on a par with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, India, Pakistan and, crucially, Israel?”
Korski also said the U.S. will play a crucial role in any such attack on Iran by Israel.
“The period during the U.S. presidential election may be the best for Israel to strike,” he wrote. “President Obama will be under pressure from the Republicans to back Israeli action — Iran being seen as the President's biggest foreign policy weakness — and so he will be constrained in how much he can hold the Israeli government back.”
It is unclear if Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favors a strike on Iran or not, despite his harsh rhetoric against Tehran. Reportedly, the top brass of Israel's military are divided over the issue.