Israel says Time is Running Out to Stop Iran from Getting Nuclear Weapons

Ehud BarakIsraeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said
Friday the world must quickly stop Iran from reaching the point where
even a “surgical” military strike could not block it from obtaining
nuclear weapons.


Amid fears that Israel
is nearing a decision to attack Iran’s nuclear program, Barak said
tougher international sanctions are needed against Tehran’s oil and
banks so that “we all will know early enough whether the Iranians are
ready to give up their nuclear weapons program.”

Iran
insists its atomic program is only aimed at producing energy and
research, but has repeatedly refused to consider giving up its ability
to enrich uranium.

“We are determined to
prevent Iran from turning nuclear. And even the American president and
opinion leaders have said that no option should be removed from the
table and Iran should be blocked from turning nuclear,” Barak told
reporters during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

“It
seems to us to be urgent, because the Iranians are deliberately
drifting into what we call an immunity zone where practically no
surgical operation could block them,” he said.

Barak
called it “a challenge for the whole world” to prevent a nuclear-armed
Iran but stopped short of confirming any action that could further stoke
Washington’s concern about a possible Israeli military strike.

Separately,
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged a resumption of dialogue
between Western powers and Iran on their nuclear dispute.

He
said Friday that Tehran must comply with Security Council resolutions
and prove conclusively that its nuclear development program is not
directed to making arms.

“The onus is on
Iran,” said Ban, speaking at a press conference. “They have to prove
themselves that their nuclear development program is genuinely for
peaceful purposes, which they have not done yet.”

Ban
expressed concern at the most recent report of the International Atomic
Energy Agency that strongly suggested that Iran’s nuclear program,
which it long has claimed is for development of power generation, has a
military intent.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said
at a Davos session that “we do not have that much confidence if Iran has
declared everything” and its best information “indicates that Iran has
engaged in activities relevant to nuclear explosive devices.”

“For now they do not have the capacity to manufacture the fuel,” he said. “But in the future, we don’t know.”

In
spite of his tough words to Iran, Ban said that dialogue among the
“three-plus-three” – Germany, France and Britain plus Russia, China and
the United States – is the path forward.

“There is no other alternative for addressing this crisis than peaceful … resolution through dialogue,” said Ban.

Ban
noted that there have been a total of five Security Council resolutions
so far on the Iranian nuclear program, four calling for sanctions.

As
tensions have been on the rise recently, some political leaders in
Israel and the United States have been speaking increasingly of the
possibility of a military strike to eliminate, or at least slow down,
what they allege is a determined effort by Iran to obtain nuclear
weapons.

John Daniszewski contributed to this report.

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