Thursday, August 02, 2012

On Iran: US and Israel using different clocks

From JPost, 3 Aug 2012, by Herb Keinon:
...if Iran does not voluntarily and peacefully decide to halt its program, “we cannot allow the nuclearization of Iran,” [PM Bibi Netanyahu] said.
In an interview with Channel 1, Netanyahu made clear that Israel and the US had different time references regarding the problem.
“The US is big and distant, Israel is smaller and closer to Iran, and – of course – we have different capabilities,” [Netanyahu] said. “So the American clock regarding preventing nuclearization of Iran is not the Israeli one. The Israeli clock works, obviously, according to a different schedule.”
Netanyahu also said that if Israel acted in opposition to US desires on Iran it would not lead to an irreparable rupture, just as there was no rupture in ties with Washington in May 1948 when David Ben-Gurion declared statehood in opposition to American wishes; in June 1967 when Levi Eshkol acted against US advice and launched a preemptive attack against Egypt; and in June 1981 when Menacham Begin decided to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor despite US opposition.

From JPost, 1 Aug 2012, by Herb Keinon:
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s visit to Israel on Wednesday was aimed at achieving one goal – getting Israel to trust the United States.. In a warm, smiling, handshake pumping photo-op before his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, the two men ...reading from carefully prepared statements – gave us a real-time glimpse at the differences in the two countries’ approaches to Iran.
And it all has to do with one word: capability.

...“Today we’ll have the opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing our region and no challenge is greater than stopping Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” Netanyahu said...

“I want to reassert again the position of the United States that with regards to Iran, we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period,” [Panetta] said in an unequivocal statement that sounded like a read-my-lips-moment. “We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen.”

The US won’t allow Tehran to get a nuclear weapon. But Panetta did not say anything about keeping the Iranians from gaining nuclear weapons capability.
And that is a world of difference.

In Netanyahu’s view, Tehran must be kept from accumulating all the different components needed for a nuclear weapon, meaning it cannot have the sufficient quantities of enriched uranium, triggers and missiles. It must be stopped before it has all the technical pieces in place and just needs to make the decision to put them together.
In Panetta’s view, Iran cannot get a weapon. Apparently meaning, if his words are parsed, that the US has no intention of preventing the Iranians from achieving the capabilities, only from actually putting all the capabilities they accumulate into a nuclear bomb.
In layman’s terms, that means that in America’s view it may be okay if the Iranians have a missile in one room, and all the enriched uranium for a bomb in another, as long as they do not make the decision to put it all together in the same room and emerge with a nuclear-tipped missile. Israel’s view is that Iran must be stopped before it has sufficient uranium in any one room.
This difference – between keeping Iran from nuclear capability and keeping Tehran from a nuclear weapon – has huge operational ramifications affecting the decision when military action might need to be taken.
Those who believe the Iranians must be stopped before they have achieved nuclear capabilities must take action well before those who say they must be stopped only before they start putting together everything they have in their different “rooms.”
That key difference in approach came out clearly in Netanyahu and Panetta’s smiling public comments on Wednesday. But how the two sides deal with that difference, and what it means operationally, remains very much in the realm of speculation.

From Israel National News, 1 Aug 2012, by Chana Ya'ar:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has informed US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Israel will make its own decisions on how to deal with Iran....
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