Army chief: Israeli military preparing for nuclear Iran scenario

Army chief: Israeli military preparing for nuclear Iran scenario

12/12/07 “DPA” — — Tel Aviv – Israel”s army chief of staff hinted Wednesday that the Israeli military may have to act itself to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, if the international community was unsuccessful in doing so.

“The international community must act determinedly to stop the “nuclearization” of Iran,” Lieutenant-General Gaby Ashkenazi told a symposium on security at a leading Israeli think-tank in Tel Aviv. “But we, in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), carry the responsibility to prepare for any scenario in case this is unsuccessful,” he told the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

The military chief added that Israel would in the coming years “significantly upgrade” its ability to act – “defensively and offensively ” – against “long-range threats of different kinds.” His remarks came after a new US intelligence report partially released Monday last week said Iran had suspended its efforts to build an atom bomb in 2003, but had continued to enrich uranium and could therefore have enough material to build a bomb between 2010 and 2015.

Israelis have expressed fear the National Intelligence Estimate will undermine efforts to impose tougher sanctions against Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the same symposium late Tuesday that Iran “remains dangerous.” “We must continue the international pressure with full force to dissuade Iran from its nuclear tendencies,” he said, adding he trusted the US would continue to lead the international campaign against Iran.

Olmert also expressed scepticism about the need of a country rich in oil and gas to enrich uranium, “unless it wants to develop nuclear weapons.”