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No Softening on Iran: Israeli Defense Minister

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivers a speech to the Foreign Press Association members in Jerusalem, April 30, 2012.
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivers a speech to the Foreign Press Association members in Jerusalem, April 30, 2012.
Scott Bobb

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is maintaining the government's hard line against Iran's nuclear program, saying Israel will not be duped by negotiations, and warning that an attack is not out of the question. But leaders of Israel's security services have expressed strong reservations about the effectiveness of a military strike against Iran, and its repercussions.

On Monday, Barak acknowledged that stiff new sanctions against Iran helped restart talks between Iran and the group of six world powers known as the P-5 +1 - Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States.

"Today sanctions are stronger than ever," said Barak. "They forced the Iranians to take note, to sit down and to talk. The P-5+1 engagement of Iran, however, does not fill me with confidence. I may sound pessimistic, but the State of Israel cannot afford to be duped."

Barak also accused the Iranian government of seeking to buy time to make its alleged nuclear weapons program immune from military attacks.

The defense minister has been one of the strongest supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline position against Iran's nuclear activities, which Israel believes are aimed at making nuclear weapons.

But leaders of Israel's security services have expressed strong reservations about whether military action would be effective in stopping Iran's suspect activities.

Western powers lately have suggested that Iran be allowed to retain enough uranium enrichment capabilities to support nuclear medicine and generation of electrical power.  They see a military strike as the last option.

Barak told foreign journalists in Jerusalem that in his view, Iran is not to be trusted.

"Iranian deception and lies concerning their nuclear program have been on-going and well-documented," said Barak.  "Yet parts of the world, including some politically motivated Israeli figures, prefer to bury their heads in sand."

Iran has pledged to retaliate for any attack.  But Barak said as long as Tehran maintains what he called its goal of destroying the Israeli state and supports international terrorism, it must be prevented from becoming a nuclear power.

"A military option is not a simple one," Barak added.  "It will be complicated with certain associated risks. But a radical Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons would be far more dangerous both to the region and, indeed, to the whole world."

He said his primary responsibility as defense minister is to ensure that Israel's fate remains in its own hands.

Still, some Israelis prefer to wait and see. Sanctions should be given a chance, said Eitan Livne, nn Iran analyst in Israel.

"Sanctions are meant to make the last resort, the military option, unnecessary. So before we admit that sanctions have failed we must give them a real try," he said.

If the sanctions fail, Livne said, the international community should then reassess its strategy.

But political analysts note that Israel appears to be entering an election campaign period. Many opposition leaders have begun calling for the dissolution of parliament and elections within the next six months.

Hebrew University Professor Abraham Diskin said as a result, the issue of whether to attack Iran is likely to be placed on a back burner as candidates and voters focus on domestic issues.

"I don't think any move of Israel is going to be decided according to domestic or electoral consideration. It's too heavy of an issue. It's too existential on the one hand and the risk is too heavy on the other hand," said Diskin.

And he said although a military attack might provide a temporary boost to political leaders, they are not likely to undertake such a risky foreign mission during an electoral campaign.

Finally, the U.S. presidential campaign is also affecting the possibility of a military strike on Iran.

Public opinion polls have shown that less than half of the Israeli public supports an independent strike against Iran, while nearly three-fourths support a strike with U.S. backing.

View the timeline of Key Dates in Israel-Iran Relations

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by: Gab to George
May 04, 2012 2:47 PM
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of nations agreeing to neutrality. So, while they support Iran's right to have nuclear energy, they cannot support Iran's right to ignore, misinform, or misstate the facts to the United Nations regarding their atomic program. The Iranian leader is a proven certified knucklehead "we have no homosexuals in Iran" "the holocaust is a myth" and he compared the passions of the Green Movement to that of a soccer match. You probably support that as well.

by: Gab to George, "who is the world?"
May 04, 2012 1:46 PM
All I can do is read the reports, statements, testimonials, and other documents from the UN websites. So again, I ask you what is your primary source of factual documents? You fail to respond every time. You use words like "Amano is an idiot", "facts seem to be irrelevant to you", " a stooge of the US", but fail to be specific. You say the the US and Israel are the biggest terrorists. I read all the foreign press and fail to see a basis to support that statement.

by: Gab to George, "who is the world?"
May 04, 2012 6:44 AM
The IAEA Board of Governors found Iran in non-compliance with its 'NPT Safeguards Agreement", concluding in a rare non-consensus decision with 12 abstentions, that Iran's past safeguards "breaches" and "failures" constituted "non-compliance" with its Safeguards Agreement. The General Conference is made up of all 151 member states (each with one vote). It meets once a year to approve the actions passed on from the Board of Governors.

by: George
May 04, 2012 3:48 AM
George to Gab: Why are you so sensitive? You don't seem to know anything about NPT. Enrichment is the inherent right of NPT members. There is no "defiance" of the World. Next, we'll ask Brazil to stop enriching. Do you know who the World is: US and its lackeys in Europe. Please don’t start me on terrorism. The US and Israel are the biggest terrorist states in the world. E.g., CIA sponsors the Jundullah terrorists. Hezbollah and Hamas are NOT terrorists. They exist to stop the Israeli barbarians.

by: Gab to George
May 03, 2012 8:57 AM
again, you are worried about what I believe instead of concerning yourself with what they believe. And if the Islamic Republic is going to stand up to the rest of the world, enrich uranium unrestricted, and support known terrorists, then they should have at least one good ally besides Bashar al-Assad.

by: George
May 02, 2012 6:10 PM
George to Gab: So, you are an atheist? So am I. So, what is all this concern about the second coming? There are still at least 20,000 Jews in Iran. Did you watch the YouTube video that I suggested ("Jews in Iran")? You talk nonsense. Iran has no interest in “rallying” the Muslim world. Most Sunnis hate Shiites anyway. As for the November IAEA report, it was pure garbage. It was based on forged document. Amano is an idiot. Take my word for it. I have only 500 characters here.

by: Gab to Jay, No one wants to bomb Iran,
May 02, 2012 2:34 PM
only two nuclear facilities. The Islamic Republic knows it cannot join the arms race, so what is their plan? They have been unsuccessful in rallying the Muslim world, so what is their plan? Even senior Chinese envoy last month urged Iran to cooperate with the UN. IAEA in November issued a report saying Iran was engaged in activities that strongly suggested it was researching an atomic weapon and the capacity to put a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile. That's suicide!

by: Jay
May 02, 2012 12:12 PM
Iran has already relocated core programs. Bombing Iran is just silly at this point.

by: Gab to George
May 02, 2012 10:58 AM
You are judging me instead of the facts. I am an American of mixed heritage, an atheist, and a Constitutionalist who believes in the separation of Church and State. Quit deflecting, most Jews have left Iran as did they from the rest of the Middle East. Christians are moving out in mass as well. Iranian Jews can only be estimated due to the community’s isolation from world Jewry. Any contact with Israel is a death sentence for spying. 13 have been executed under this administration so far.

by: George
May 02, 2012 10:09 AM
George to Josh: Search for "The rumor of the century," and get over this childish nonsense. Have you heard of free speech? Iranians attack the US verbally for its many misdeeds. So what? I can call you a kangaroo. Does that make you a kangaroo?

So, you think Iranians hate the Jews? Iran is the home of the largest population of Jews in the Middle East after Israel. Go to YouTube and look for a video called “Jews in Iran.”
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