Israeli officials are expressing concern over Iran's test firing of
nine missiles on Wednesday. VOA's Jim Teeple has details from our
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert, issued a statement saying "Israel has no desire for
conflict with Iran, but the Iranian nuclear program and the Iranian
ballistic missile program must be of grave concern to the entire
Iranian revolutionary guards who
conducted the missile test say at least one of the nine missiles fired
was a Shahab 3 with a 2,000-kilometer range capable of striking Israel.
Meir Javedanfar, a leading Iran analyst in Israel, says Israeli officials
"I think they are viewing this with much
concern," he said. "It shows Iran has the capability to reach Israel.
But for now the Israeli priority is for the negotiations to succeed so
the lower the Israeli government can keep the volume when it comes to
the Iranian military capability the more it allows people like European
Union negotiator Javier Solana to be able to negotiate with Iran and
hopefully come to a peaceful conclusion."
The missile tests come
amid continuing tensions in the region over Iran's refusal to abandon
its nuclear program. Iranian officials say their nuclear program is
strictly for generating electricity, but the U.N. Security Council has
demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
Union negotiator Javier Solana has submitted a package of incentives
that would include assistance to help Iran develop a civilian nuclear
program if Iran does suspend its enrichment activities. Iranian
officials said several days ago they are prepared to hold talks with
Mr. Solana and his so called five-plus-one group to resolve the crisis.
Israeli officials insist that Iran is developing nuclear
weapons and that pronouncements by Iranian leaders to wipe Israel off
the map mean that Iran's nuclear enrichment activities are a threat to
Israel's existence. Meir Javendanfar says Israeli officials are
closely watching recent diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, because
they seem to be having an effect inside Iran.
"I think the
recent package from the EU, the five-plus-one, has actually created a
lot of discussion within Iran regarding what to do, regarding President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's belligerent approach to the international
community," he said. "So, what I think Israel wants to do is for the
EU and the United Nations to become more involved with Iran, and
meanwhile Israel can act as the international community's conscience
when it comes to the Iranian danger."
Iran has threatened that
any military action aimed at its nuclear enrichment program would lead
to Iranian attacks against Israel, U.S. forces in the region, and the
shut down of the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which
much of the world's oil supply passes.
conducted large scale military exercises over the Mediterranean which
were described by U.S. officials as a warning to Iran. Following a
recent trip to Israel, the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff
Admiral Mike Mullen said any attack on Iran would be stressful for U.S.
forces in the region.
At the same time Admiral Mullen said he was aware
of what he said were very real threats to Israel from Iran. For his
part, Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Tuesday any talk of war in the
future was "a funny joke."