Israel: Iran will have nuclear weapons by 2011

posted at 1:36 pm on December 28, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

As if dozens of jihadis wearing suicide underwear wasn’t enough of a problem for the US and the world, the Israelis remind us today of an even bigger threat about to reach maturation.  The Iranians will have the technical capability to build a nuclear weapon within weeks, and will have one completed by 2011, according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:

Iran will possess the technology to build a nuclear bomb by early 2010 and be able to produce one the following year, Israeli media quoted Israel’s defense minister as saying Monday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered his assessment before the Israeli parliament’s defense and foreign affairs committee. It broadly matches assessments from other nations including the U.S., which estimates that Tehran could produce a nuclear weapon between 2010 and 2015.

The Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the reports and a Barak spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment. The radio and newspaper Web site reports did not identify the source of their information, but participants in the committee meetings routinely brief reporters on the proceedings.

Earlier this month, Israel’s military intelligence chief said Iran was close to an unspecified “technological breakthrough” that would enable it to build nuclear weapons. He did not elaborate on the breakthrough or say when exactly he expected Iran to have weapons-making capability.

That breakthrough could have been the neutron trigger, a device that only has an application for nuclear weapons.  Two weeks ago, documents showing that Iran continued to pursue a working neutron trigger were made public, and even the IAEA noted that there could be no peaceful use for that research.  Iran continues to deny the authenticity of the documents, but whether the breakthrough was on the trigger or another piece of the nuclear puzzle, Tehran has clearly continued full tilt to get the bomb.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu told a gathering of diplomats recalled to Israel that time is running out:

“The international community must act,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a separate gathering of Israeli diplomats. “If sanctions aren’t imposed now, if true pressure isn’t applied now — then when will they do it?”

Meanwhile, Iran still faces a December 31 deadline to respond to an offer from the West to supply enriched uranium in exchange for an end to Iranian enrichment.  The Obama administration attempted to underscore its seriousness about the deadline, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad scoffed openly at the warning.  Technically, that should mean that Israel has only three days to wait for the international community to act — but unless Russia and China have decided to sacrifice their own economic health to the cause, this deadline will pass without any meaningful action, like so many others over the last several years.

Israel’s diplomatic recall and Netanyahu’s warning is meant to send another signal, both to Iran and the international community.  Israel will take care of the problem their way if the world doesn’t start taking this seriously.  That first bomb has Tel Aviv written on the nose cone, and everyone knows it.  Israel is not about to stand by while Iran prepares a new Holocaust for them. After all, if we can pre-emptively attack Yemen for a handful of airplane bombers, Israel has the right to end an existential threat.

It would seem that Barack Obama and the West has only a few weeks left to head off unilateral Israeli action.

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Comment pages: 1 2

You’ve taken your eye off the ball. Don’t worry about Israel and what they’ll do. Worry about the rest of the countries in the Middle East.

mjk on December 28, 2009 at 3:53 PM

I understand that the Sunni-Shi’a conflict is the big daddy, but either way, Iran getting the bomb is a horrible situation for the US and for Israel. My question was, what should we do about it? Hopefully, we can use Sunni opposition to advance our interests, but I’m not really sure how likely that is to help.

tneloms on December 28, 2009 at 4:55 PM

So what can we do?

scalleywag on December 28, 2009 at 2:19 PM

Logistics > Israel > stat!

OldEnglish on December 28, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Unfortuantely, Bush dithered on this issue too.

WashJeff on December 28, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Beat me to it.

thomasaur on December 28, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Bush put US troops on their eastern border (Afghanistan), and on their western border (Iraq), placed naval forces to their south in Qatar, and stocked Turkey et al to their north with air forces. Surrounded. Unfortunately, the turd-in-chief is trying to dismantle that.

Vashta.Nerada on December 28, 2009 at 5:51 PM


Horrible situations require horrible responses. Some options:

1. The USA could assist Israel in destroying as much of Iran’s nuclear capability as possible. Israel can’t do this alone due to logistics.

2. Blockade Iran’s ports until the Mullah’s break.

3. Invade Iran and capture or kill the Mullahs.

Each option has it’s own problems. It’s the President’s job to consult with Israel and the USA military and decide which option is best. Voting present, working with the UN, China, Russia or other allies outside of Israel will have no effect in my opinion. No one except Israel and the USA is going to do anything useful about the situation.

Meremortal on December 28, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Well, my point was, what do you actually propose to do about Iran? I don’t mind if you make fun of him for not doing anything, but you should at least offer what you think should be done.

What Would BobMbx Do (WWBD):

Provide support for an anti-Mullah group within Iran, a lot of it. Openly call for an overthrow of the theocracy. Impose extreme trade embargoes, if not an outright blockade. If these do not provide immediate and acceptable responses, precision strikes against government facilities and assets (media, poice, intelligence agencies, specific targets proposed by the anti-mullah group we’re supporting.

Never threaten to do these things. Do them, then say you’ll stop when they comply. At all times, the goal is to remove the mullahs, target their nuclear facilities, and make sure their allies (Venezuela, N. Korea, Yemen, non-state actors, etc.) are aware of the penalty for interfering.

Re-flag all crude oil tankers with the US flag (as was done in the ’80s). Move large US ground forces towards both borders (Iraq, Afghanistan). Establish No-fly zones outside of Iranian airspace; any non-scheduled or military flight that violates the zone gets shot down, no questions asked or answered.

That’s the first week after I’m in charge. So you get the idea, right?

Also, I have no idea why you interpreted what I wrote as “can’t we all just get along.” I think we should bomb Iran if we can.
tneloms on December 28, 2009 at 4:40 PM

You sound defeatist; almost Kerry-esque with the “International Test” theory of diplomacy. I pee alone, I fight alone. If anyone wants to join me, thats up to them, but watch your aim and stay out of my line of fire.

BobMbx on December 28, 2009 at 6:49 PM

We must be prepared for Iran attempting a nuclear strike. When the attempt is made, whether it succeeds or not, we must–MUST–retaliate. And I can see only one appropriate retaliation: Provide the government of Iran two choices. Either the entire religious government, the entire Republican Guard (or whatever they call it) and every officer over the rank of captain surrender within 36 hours, at a time and place of our choosing and with the expectation of execution, or the modern nation of Iran is bombed into the stone age and ceases to exist. Power, telecom, water, sewage, it all has to go. And so does every structure built after 1900.

Millions will die, yes. Millions would die in a retaliatory nuclear strike. If we do neither we invite a nuclear, biological and chemical WWIII, launched by rogue states instead of superpowers. Conventional bombing will do less harm to the environment.

njcommuter on December 28, 2009 at 8:55 PM

What will Obama say or do when Ahmidinejad tells the US to remove all naval ships from the Persian Gulf or there will be a nuclear strike on a carrier? Why would we want to be faced with that sort of threat? The time for sanctions is now, before Iran has a nuclear capability. The time for a refined oil blockade is now. The time for concentrated support of the Iranian opposition is now. If we take no action after the 31 December deadline, Obama will have proven himself to be a total failure as President.

stefano1 on December 29, 2009 at 12:42 AM

After all, if we can pre-emptively attack Yemen for a handful of airplane bombers, Israel has the right to end an existential threat.

Excellent reasoning, Ed. This establishes the justness of any Israeli attack on Iran. It is of course a bit more complicated than that in terms of costs/benefits.

It would seem that Barack Obama and the West has only a few weeks left to head off unilateral Israeli action.

I doubt there will be an outright aerial attack by Israel. There have been reports that Israel has been using other means to attack the program (I’m guessing low-level electromagnetic “bombs” by undercover agents in the country, among others)… I just think the intensity of these attacks will increase.

AlexB on December 29, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Israel: Iran will have nuclear weapons by 2011

Why should I believe this story after seeing this?>

Official: U.S. intelligence found Iran nuke document was forged

Bill Blizzard on December 29, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Comment pages: 1 2