Translated by Viktoria Lymar
Edited by Steven Stenzler
21 January 2012
With all due respect to James Bond stories,
where the last noise the Iranian nuclear scientists hear would be the sound of
a motorcycle speeding away, a second after its rider stuck an explosive charge
to their vehicle’s door, and a second before the blast, the event that really
matters in the effort to halt the development of the Iranian bomb is to occur
next Monday. European foreign ministers will, in a move which
This is going to be a worldwide motion: Europe
would commit not to buy, and in parallel,
It's still unclear what timetable the foreign ministers will allocate for the implementation of the resolution, and that is, of course, an important issue. But it is clear what its meaning will be with regard to the Iranian economy, suffering from high unemployment rates, lack of trust in the local currency – which has lately undergone devaluation of 40 percent within a few weeks (a sure sign of a collapsing economy) – and from the strangulation of international credit.
Two weeks ago, one could observe at the
entrance of the banks in
On March 2, the elections to the Majlis [Iranian parliament] are to take place. The spiritual leader Khamenei, the one and only man who would issue a command to launch the final move of the bomb’s development, sees in front of his eyes a fair possibility of masses rebelling in all conceivable ways in a country subdued by the violent governance of the Revolutionary Guards: abstention from voting, local riots, steadily vanishing fear, as happened in the Arab countries and their Syrian ally. What is Khamenei going to think? What is he going to decide? "The time to blink is approaching," remarked an especially erudite Israeli official, concerning his dilemma this week.
That’s the background against which the Iranian threat to disrupt the Strait of Hormuz should be viewed: a stressed and scared rule, with the choking economic noose closing tighter and tighter around it, threatening with the economic equivalent of the doomsday weapon – to forcibly shut down the passage channeling almost half of the globe’s oil.
This is such an extreme maneuver that the Iranians hadn't resorted to it even once in the course of their bloody war against
Those tracking the situation estimate that the firm verbal response of the
The question is
whether Khamenei understands what
Should the Iranians block the strait, Obama will need to act resolutely and will no longer concerned about the price – because this is already going to be paid. The question is whether Khamenei – besieged, dependent more and more on the extremist Revolutionary Guards, feeling his regime quacking – is indeed considering undertaking a step that might invite to the skies aircraft he truly fears, those carrying the stars-and-stripes flag on their tails, and the military strength of America under their wings.
How Much Time Left?
The logic of proponents of an Israeli
facility is dug into a mountain, and the claim is that
The first question is if we can know. At the moment, at the Fordo facility, there operate single centrifuges (cascades) – no more than Iranians’ symbolic declaration about their intention to employ it. Even at full capacity, there won't be more than 3,000 centrifuges in there; for the sake of comparison, at the main enrichment plant in Natanz, there are 9,000 centrifuges running today, and at full capacity, it's supposed to reach around 55 thousand.
The centrifuges Iranians use are of outdated Pakistani make – they are trying to develop a new and more state-of-art one – and that’s without mentioning repeated bruises in the process. The plant in Natanz, remember, is also monitored by the IAEA.
This state of affairs is supposed to provide to Israel and the West apparent warning signs as to the Iranian decision to foray to the bomb, which has yet to fall, according to our [Israeli] estimation: expulsion of the IAEA inspectors would presage something like that, and an expressed rationale for attack to anyone who sees in the Iranian bomb an existential threat.
That was one of the messages of Defense Secretary Panetta in his discussions with the Israeli top echelon, whose outward expression was determined statements on the need for international cooperation and a warning against a unilateral Israeli raid: should the Iranians decide to break the rules, they would need to expose this intent. Another message was that since there's no chance that the Iranians get near to the bomb during the current year – even the pessimists in Israel are talking a year since the moment of making that call – which, as stated, hasn't been made yet – there'll be time and ability to thwart the development of the nuke even after the presidential elections in the United States.
Khamenei's Decision Point
question, rarely discussed for obvious reasons, concerns the efficiency of the
possible Israeli bombing. Without going into classified operational details
unknown even to me, one can ask a question rising exactly from Barak's
arguments: if Fordo is in truth a site that
2012 may indeed be the decisive year. At its end, Obama is going to come to power in Washington, free of any considerations other than his place in history, or a Republican president will, a lot closer to Benjamin's Netanyahu's friends in Congress. If the breakthrough scenario does not materialize, the Iranians will go ahead with their creeping enrichment until reality stops them.
Israel, the assessment is that it will happen much before the end of the year:
the resolution to fall this week in Europe, the pressure on the banks, flight
of the private businessmen, primarily Chinese, from the projects in Iran – all
of these will drive Khamenei in the coming months to a point where he’ll either
break through or look for a ladder to come down from a high tree.
Most of these people, it should be said, think as well that an Israeli assault would solve all the dilemmas for the Iranians, unite the nation around the regime at least at this point, and put a stick in Israel’s spokes in a dangerous way. The question is whether the people who at the end of the day are to make this decision, belong to this majority. The question is whether someone is going to blink in
Original Hebrew article: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/328/657.html?hp=1&cat=479