Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday played down speculation that Israel intended to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it had not decided to embark on any military operation.
“War is not a picnic. We want a picnic. We don’t want a war,” Barak told Israel Radio ahead of the release this week of an International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] report on Iran’s nuclear activity.
“[Israel] had not yet decided to embark on any operation,” he said, dismissing Israeli media speculation that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had chosen that option.
But he said Israel had to prepare for “uncomfortable situations” and ultimately bore responsibility for its own security. All options to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions should remain open, he said.
The IAEA report is widely expected to strengthen suspicions that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons despite its statements that its uranium enrichment programme is aimed at power generation.
“I estimate that it will be quite a harsh report … it does not surprise Israel, we have been dealing with these issues for years,” Barak said. “We are probably at the last opportunity for coordinated, international, lethal sanctions that will force Iran to stop.”
Western nuclear experts have told Haaretz, in anticipation of the IAEA report, that Iran will be ready to build a nuclear bomb within a few months if it desires.
Other experts, who have seen intelligence used in the compilation of the latest report, have said that Tehran already has the know-how, the technological means and the materials needed to put an atom bomb together within short order.
These experts have concluded that nuclear weapons engineers from Russia, Pakistan and North Korea have been assisting Iranian scientists in their efforts to reach nuclear capability. Haaretz published similar information last week, reporting that experts have said that Iran could carry out underground nuclear tests quite soon if it wants to.
For more, go to Haaretz.com