Friday, March 10, 2006

Ya'alon: We Could Take Out Iran N-sites

Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian:
General Moshe Ya'alon, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, has revealed that Israel could neutralise the Iranian threat for several years by hitting dozens of targets spread around the country. READ MORE

General Ya'alon told the Hudson Institute in Washington on Thursday that the Iranian sites could be struck with greater accuracy than was achieved by the air force in its frequent "targeted assassinations" of Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

His remarks, the most explicit yet about Israel's capacity to strike at Iran's nuclear sites, drew sharp criticism from officials in Israel who have been attempting to maintain a low profile on the issue in order to leave it as a matter for the international community.

"You don't talk about these things in public," said a senior official, "particularly when there are journalists present."

The general's comments came as Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that if his Kadima party won this month's national elections, he would aim to establish the country's final borders with the Palestinian Authority within four years.

Although Mr Olmert expressed a readiness to negotiate these borders with a Hamas government if it recognised Israel and disavowed violence, he indicated that this was not likely to happen. The new borders would then be set unilaterally by Israel.

Mr Olmert said for the first time that the security barrier being built on the West Bank parallel to the pre-Six Day War boundary would serve as the new border, although its alignment might be shifted in places - either deeper into the West Bank or closer to Israel.

In Washington, General Ya'alon noted that unlike Palestinian targets, which were generally travelling in vehicles, nuclear sites were stationary.

He added that the job could also be done by means other than an air force attack, an apparent reference to missiles.

"It would be preferable for other nations to do the job," he was quoted as saying, "but you can't rule out Israel."

The retired general said the Iranians could complete their know-how on building a nuclear device within the next six to 18 months and could build one within three to six years.

A sharp counter-strike against Israel could be expected, General Ya'alon said, including the launching of missiles from Iran and action by the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, who have been provided by Iran with 12,000 rockets capable of hitting up to 80km inside Israel.

He said that Israel's Arrow anti-missile missile was fully deployed and capable of intercepting the Iranian missiles.