Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Israel would have to attack a nuclear Tehran
Tehran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program that, if not halted immediately by the supporting of key reformists, will leave Israel with no choice but to carry out a pre-emptive strike against Iran, WND columnist and "Atomic Iran" author Jerome Corsi testified today before Israel's Knesset. READ MORE

"Israel might need to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran, even if the international military and diplomatic reprisals that follow might bring immense pressure upon Israel itself," Corsi said in a keynote address to the Knesset's prestigious Forum on the Middle East.

"Israel might well calculate that Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be too unpredictable and dangerous to tolerate. At any moment and for any reason, Iran might simply launch a nuclear strike on Israel," said Corsi, warning of the consequences of a nuclear Iran.

Corsi later emphasized that war must be the "last, worst resort," and that there is still time for peaceful change – which is why he founded the Iran Freedom Foundation.

Corsi warned the Knesset that Israel should not assume the U.S. will act on its behalf: "The United States cannot be expected to take the first steps if military action should be required. The first credible threat will be to Israel, not the more distant shores of America."

Corsi outlined the history of the current Iranian regime, blasting the mullahs for what he said were rampant human-rights violations, crackdowns on key reformists, hard-line Islamic policies and media censorship practices.

Echoing recent remarks by President Bush, Corsi called Iran "the most active sponsor of state terrorism."

"The mullahs' support for terrorism includes providing bases to al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Ansar al-Islam, and safe havens for terrorist leaders, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and members of the bin Laden family. Iran supports most terrorist groups that have attacked Israel and Americans in the region, including Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Jihad and Ansar al Islam. These groups have claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks in the last 20 years."

Peaceful change in Iran is possible, Corsi testified, but only if the international community acts now to support reformist groups.

He said the Iran Freedom Foundation, an organization he recently founded, applied for a grant from the U.S. State Department to establish offices in Turkey he thinks could help spark a popular uprising in Iran.

"If we obtain the necessary funds, we intend to establish an office in Turkey from which we can work directly with dissidents active in Iran," Corsi said. "We plan to send into Iran the funds needed to buy computers, printers and cell phones – the essential tools of communication – to help dissidents organize their protest."

Corsi said assisting key Iranian reformists could prompt a response similar to what he called the "Lebanon model." Beirut recently won its freedom from nearly 30 years of Syrian occupation following large-scale protests.

But Corsi warned Iran continues to built an infrastructure that could allow it to go nuclear within months if Tehran restarts a yellowcake unranium enrichment facility. He accused Iran of defying promises it made to the international community to halt its uranium program.

"Before calling a temporary halt to the enrichment of uranium in November 2004, Iran secretly enriched 37 tons of yellowcake uranium to the first stage of producing weapons-grade uranium at their Isfahan facility. Reportedly, Iran intends to install tens of thousands of advanced centrifuges at the underground uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. Within a matter of months of resuming uranium enrichment, Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium to make five or six atomic bombs," Corsi testified.

Corsi told the Knesset the U.S. is not currently sufficiently motivated to act against Iran.

"Although the mullahs armed with nuclear weapons capability may well seek to develop an improvised nuclear device and ship it into the United States, the threat of an 'Atomic 9-11' has failed to waken public fear in a nation which has not experience a terrorist attack since the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked."

Michael Gribov, director of the Knesset Forum on the Middle East, which Hosted Corsi at the hearing, told WND: "At the hearing, Dr. Corsi's central message was one of the necessity for peaceful regime change in Iran, that the way to resolve this conflict is peaceful – by supporting the dissidents and political opposition within Iran." That, Gribov added, is the "central message of Corsi and his foundation, which is working closely with the White House and other political leaders."

Other speakers at today's Knesset session included Labor Minister Ephraim Sneh, Israeli Defense Force intelligence analyst Yossi Cooperwasser, director of Farsi Voice of Israel Radio Menashe Amir, and senior researcher at Israel's Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies Ephraim Asculai.

The conference, largely centered around Corsi's "Atomic Iran," did not produce a singular estimated timetable for Iran's developing nukes, with speakers offering predictions of anywhere from three months to three years.

Still, Corsi urged immediate action: "Having sworn 'Never Again,' the government of Israel must not take the risk of discovering that Iran has a nuclear weapon by waking up one morning to witness a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv."