Left: Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz; photo courtesy of Digital Globe.com
(Berlin) Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz his country is prepared to act if the United Nations cannot achieve progress on the Iranian nuclear program.
"My answer to this question is that the state of Israel has the right give all the security that is needed to the people in Israel. We have to defend ourselves," Mofaz said to reporters after a conference with German defense minister Franz Josef Jung. "Everything must be done to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons."
The comments by Mofaz set the stage for a repeat of the 1981 bombing by Israel ofIraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, a preemptive act that set the Iraqi nuclear program back at least a decade.
Iraqi nuclear scientists asscoiated with the project, however, claim that Israel's attack only made Sadaam Hussein more determined to obtain nuclear weapons. Khidir Hamza, one of the leaders of the project, was interviewed by Mike Begala on CNN's Crossfire in 2003:
What Israel [did] is that it got out the immediate danger out of the way. But it created a much larger danger in the longer range. What happened is that Saddam ordered us — we were 400...scientists and technologists running the program. And when they bombed that reactor out, we had also invested $400 million. And the French reactor and the associated plans were from Italy. When they bombed it out we became 7,000 with a $10 billion investment for a secret, much larger underground program to make bomb material by enriching uranium. We dropped the reactor out totally, which was the plutonium for making nuclear weapons, and went directly into enriching uranium… They [Israel] estimated we'd make 7 kg of plutonium a year, which is enough for one bomb. And they get scared and bombed it out. Actually it was much less than this, and it would have taken a much longer time. But the program we built later in secret would make six bombs a year.Iran insists that its aims are the peaceful development of electricity. Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened retaliation if Israel or the United States were to bomb any of its nuclear facilities.
Today Iran threatened the US with "harm and pain" for its role in bringing the country before the UN Security Council over the nuclear program.
"The United States has the power to cause harm and pain," read a statement from Iranian diplomats. "But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the US wishes to choose, let the ball roll."
Analysts believe the statement reflects an Iranian strategy to reduce production as a way to punish the US. Iran is the second-largest petroleum producer in OPEC.