Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz said his country must build up its military capabilities and be prepared to strike if economic sanctions fail to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Israel must be “willing to deploy” its military assets because Iran may be within a year of gaining nuclear weapons capability, Gantz said yesterday.
...“There is no doubt that Iran is striving for a bomb,” Gantz said in an address to the annual Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center academic campus north of Tel Aviv. Its activities “must be disrupted,” he said.
...In Washington, a policy group called for providing Israel with additional bunker-buster bombs to increase pressure on Iran not to go nuclear.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Project called yesterday for providing Israel with 200 GBU-31 bombs and two or three KC-135 aerial refueling tankers. Israel has a different variant of the bunker buster and about a dozen aerial tankers, which would be needed to enable Israeli warplanes to strike targets in Iran, according to a report by the group.
‘Pressure on Iran’
“The pressure on Iran to negotiate in good faith will be maximized to the extent Iran believes that not just the United States, but also Israel, is capable of and prepared to deliver a crippling blow to its nuclear program,”
according to the report from the nonprofit research group led by former Democratic Senator Charles Robb of Virginia and retired General Charles Wald, a former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command.
To thwart Iran, the group endorsed a “triple-track” strategy of diplomacy, economic sanctions and “credible, visible preparations for a military option of last resort.”
While Israel already has about 100 GBU-28 bunker-buster munitions, the addition of 200 precision-guided GBU-31 bombs -- which have a Boeing Co. global positioning system tail-kit -- would increase the likelihood that a strike “would score a direct hit on its target,” the group said.
‘Credible Israeli Threat’
“While we do not advocate an Israeli military strike, we believe a more credible Israeli threat can only increase the pressure on Iran to negotiate,”
Wald said in a written statement...Sanctions Bite
Gantz said international sanctions are starting to show some results. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Jan. 24 for China, India, Japan and South Korea to join in sanctions aimed at curtailing Iran’s nuclear program.
“Only a combination of paralyzing sanctions and a credible threat of ‘all options on the table’ will cause Iran to have second thoughts about its nuclear program,”
Netanyahu told parliament in Jerusalem, according to a text message from his office.
A more credible military threat from Israel is required because Iran “could have the capacity to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in as little as two months” and “develop nuclear weapons capability” this year, according to the report...The National Security Project, while endorsing more sanctions, expressed skepticism about their effectiveness since “even new ‘crippling’ sanctions are unlikely to threaten the viability of the Iranian regime -- the one motivation for Tehran to negotiate in good faith.”