Sunday, December 11, 2005

Netanyahu: Pre-emptive Strike on Iran

If he succeeds in becoming Israel's next prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu indicated Monday he will not hesitate to order a military strike against Iran's nuclear program in order to safeguard his nation from annihilation.

“I will continue the tradition established by Menachem Begin, who did not allow Iraq to develop such a nuclear threat against Israel, and by a daring and courageous act gave us two decades of tranquility,” Netanyahu told Israel's Maariv daily.

“I believe that this is what Israel has to do” in the face of the growing Iranian threat, he continued.

Netanyahu’s statement comes after IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week that the world has only four months to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“If by the end of March 2006, the international community does not manage to use diplomatic means to block Iran's effort to produce a nuclear bomb, there will no longer be any reason to continue diplomatic activity in this field, and it will be possible to say that the international attempts to thwart [Iran's efforts] have failed,” Ze'evi said.

Tehran's headlong rush to build the bomb, coupled with recent incendiary statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has caused grave concern in Israel.

At a conference in October under the banner “A World without Zionism,” Ahmadinejad said Israel is a “disgraceful blot” that should be “wiped off the map.”

Addressing a gathering of news editors in Tel Aviv Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel “cannot accept a situation where Iran has nuclear arms,” and warned the Jewish state has military options.

He went on, however, to insist that diplomatic negotiations remain the front line of defense against a nuclear Iran.

But IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz on Sunday backed up Ze'evi's assessment that diplomatic efforts have all but run their course, and at this point have little chance of success.

“The fact that the Iranians are successful time after time in getting away from international pressure...encourages them to continue their nuclear project,” Halutz told a gathering of foreign journalists.

“I believe that the political means used by the Europeans and the US to convince the Iranians to stop the project will not succeed,” he added.

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