Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Israel will not launch "stupid" attack: Iran

Israelis hold placards during a protest against war with Iran, outside the home of Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv 12 August 2012. The placards read in Hebrew, "Bibi, Ehud - Leave the blasts and the effects to real super heros! Go home!" (L), and "No to war in Iran" (R). (Photo: Reuters - Nir Elias)
Published Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Iran on Tuesday said it is dismissing Israeli threats of an imminent attack against it, explaining that even some Israeli officials realized such a "stupid" act would provoke "very severe consequences."
"In our calculations, we aren't taking these claims very seriously because we see them as hollow and baseless," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in a weekly briefing.
"Even if some officials in the illegitimate regime (Israel) want to carry out such a stupid action, there are those inside (the Israeli government) who won't allow it because they know they would suffer very severe consequences from such an act," he said.

Iran's defense minister, General Ahmad Vahidi, was quoted by the ISNA news agency saying that Israel "definitely doesn't have what it takes to endure Iran's might and will."

He called the Israeli threats "a sign of weakness" by "brainless leaders."

The comments were a response to bellicose rhetoric from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in recent days suggesting they were thinking more seriously of military action against Iranian nuclear facilities.

"We are determined to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear (armed), and all the options are on the table. When we say it, we mean it," Barak told Israeli radio last Thursday.

Israeli media have underlined the threat, reporting that a decision could be made within weeks. They have also highlighted opposition to the idea by current and former Israeli military officials.
The United States has recently multiplied visits by top officials to Israel in what appears to be an attempt to dissuade the Jewish state from targeting the Islamic republic.
"We continue to believe there is time and space for diplomacy," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.

Israel – the only nuclear power in the Middle East – insists that Iran is on the point of developing nuclear weapons, and says it reserves the right to act to prevent that.

Iran says its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful, civilian uses.

The Jewish state has in the past launched air strikes to destroy nuclear facilities in Iraq and, reportedly, in Syria to protect its own regional nuclear weapons monopoly.

In the past couple of years Iran has ramped up uranium enrichment to a level just a few steps short of military-grade fissile material, saying those stocks are needed to create medical isotopes. It has also refused UN nuclear inspectors access to suspect military installations.

Renewed negotiations between Iran and the five top UN Security Council powers, plus Germany, have taken place this year. They have been downgraded after it became clear they were in an impasse, but not ended.

In the meantime, Iran is suffering from increasingly tough US and EU economic sanctions that have crippled its all-important oil exports.

Israel chooses new home defense minister

As speculation over an Israeli strike on Iran mounts, Israel moved to name former internal security minister Avi Dichter as home front defence minister, media reported on Tuesday.

Dichter, also a former head of the country's internal intelligence agency Shin Bet, will leave his post in the opposition Kadima party to join the government, media reports said.

The government declined to offer official confirmation that Dichter had been selected for the post, which has reportedly been turned down by a slew of other top officials.

Dichter, whose nomination according to Israeli media will be voted on by the parliament on Thursday, will replace Matan Vilnai, a confidant of Barak, who left the post to become ambassador to China.
He will take on the task of ensuring Israel's home front defence at a time of growing speculation about the possibility of an Israeli attack against Iran.

Such an attack could spark multi-front retaliation against the Jewish state, including from Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Observers in the Jewish state have raised questions in recent weeks about Israel's home front preparedness, and earlier this year an Israeli lawmaker told AFP that the country was "completely unprepared" for the consequences of a war, citing a lack of bomb shelters and gas masks.

Asked about his position on an Israeli strike against Iran, Dichter has said that the Jewish state "must have attack capabilities."

Reports suggest that the majority of Israel's defense and intelligence establishment do not favour an attack on Iran.

The tension in Israel rose another notch on Sunday when the government began testing an SMS system to warn the public of any missile attack.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)
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