An Israeli colleague was sent on an assignment so secret and sensitive that it was years before he would share the full story with friends.
He was dispatched by Menachem Begin, then the Prime Minister, to European capitals with orders to meet editors, politicians and opinion makers to spread the word that Israel was increasingly concerned about Iraq's nuclear programme and would do anything to stop Saddam Hussein building the bomb. The warnings, intended to prepare Western public opinion, were largely dismissed as sabre-rattling (one editor insisted on discussing a new lavatory system designed on a kibbutz) - until June 1981, when Israeli Air Force F16s bombed the plant to rubble.
A few days ago a chill went down my spine when an articulate and intelligent senior Israeli official made exactly the same argument about Iran's nuclear programme at a briefing in London. He described an Iranian nuclear weapon as an existential threat to the Jewish state, which would defend itself whatever the consequences. These warnings are not new but the political and military circumstances are conspiring to make an Israeli attack on Iran a probability, unless the Middle East experiences dramatic changes in the coming weeks and months.
It is a widely held conclusion among nuclear experts that Iran now possesses enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb. It would still have to be enriched to weapons grade at the centre in Natanz before being made into a warhead. But Iran has mastered the technology and has the raw materials. Building a nuclear bomb is now only a matter of time...
Sunday, April 5, 2009
In the London Times, an excerpt: