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Ya'alon Is Trying to Warn the U.S. of Rouhani

Israel, Ma'ariv

By Amir Rapaport

From the standpoint of the Israeli defense establishment, the win of Rouhani, considered a moderate, is actually a tree trunk in itself... Israel will work to explain to the United States and the West: his sweet talk may be a honey trap that is about to lead the Iranians to a nuclear bomb and arms threatening the entire world.

 

Translated by Viktoria Lymar

Edited by Steven Stenzler

 

22 June 2013

 

 

Reality is changing: The game of the new powers is rising another notch on the Syrian battlefield, and the rivers of arms are again flowing in the Mideast  in anticipation of another hot summer.

 

A tree that had fallen onto the railway tracks last Friday stalled the train from Washington to New York. Aboard the train, there was [Israeli] Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. More or less during the prolonged waiting time to clear the obstacle, there became clear in Iran the results of Hassan Rouhani’s landslide victory in the presidential election. It was a big surprise: None of the Western intelligence services, nor the IDF's Military Intelligence Directorate, expected such an overwhelming victory in the first round.


But from the standpoint of the Israeli defense establishment, the victory of Rouhani, considered a moderate, is actually a tree trunk in itself: the election choice is about to postpone the direct confrontation with Iran on the nuclear question if such a confrontation ever occurs at least until 2014.


According to the concept presented by Ya'alon on his visit to the United States immediately after the results were known an outlook which he reiterated in meetings with the top brass of the administration held in Paris on Monday this week Rouhani's win stems primarily from the decision of the real Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, to "use" Rohani.


Khamenei could have rejected in advance Rouhani’s candidacy for president (a position anyway a few ranks lower than the authority of the ayatollahs), or positioned vis-a-vis him solely one or two conservative candidates, instead of splitting the conservative vote between numerous contenders. But he had a good reason not to do so: Khamenei's goal can be easing the economic sanctions on Iran through moderate statements in the nearest year or two, and agreements with the West on slowing down the uranium enrichment program this is in order to comfortably pull the last step on the way to the bomb (even if this step is going to take a bit more time than in the case of the head-to-head confrontation style of the outgoing president Ahmadinejad, who aimed to advance to the bomb with almost all his might).


And still, as the defense circles have not predicted Rouhani’s landslide victory, even Ya'alon acknowledges there are positive aspects in the election of the relatively moderate individual. After all, the man called Israel by its explicit name in his first speech after the victory, and he supports dialogue with the United States in the same format in which he led a real freeze of the Iranian nuclear program against the background of the American invasion of neighboring Iraq in 2003-2004. But in the meantime, a pessimistic attitude is the predominant one. [...]


 

A Hot Season


 

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces have carried out a huge exercise this week, mainly in the air and on land. Such a drill could indicate increased readiness for war in the summer, even if it is part of the overall training routine. On the agenda, there remains unchanged the obvious Israeli challenge to continue to thwart, even by force, shipments of strategic weapons to Syria and from there to Lebanon. By contrast, there exists the threat of Assad who won’t restrain himself over the next Israeli attack on Syria. Such a reality might lead to a conflagration in the upcoming months, and that’s what was meant by the Air Force Commander [in Chief], Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, in a lecture at the Israel Air Force Center in Herzliya a month ago.


And yet the Iranian issue is the most important. Israel will work to explain in the United States and the West: Rouhani's sweet talk may be a honey trap to lead the Iranians to a nuclear bomb and arms threatening the whole world, inasmuch as the Iranians are still working on missiles with a range of 10,000 kilometers which would be capable of reaching even America from Iran.


Meanwhile, it seems that the dynamics are not working according to the desires of Israel. Over here, it had been very much hoped that the economic sanctions on Iran would be enhanced still before the elections but it didn’t happen. Now, in the wake of Rouhani’s victory, it also won’t happen at least until August, when the next meeting of world powers with Iran is to be conducted this time under the formal leadership of Rouhani.

 

Iran apparently will not cross Israel’s red line: enriching over 250 kg of uranium at a level of 20 percent or higher. Rouhani is likely to say that Iran is delaying the uranium enrichment  perhaps even freezing the process. Meantimes, Iran's nuclear efforts will go on across all channels as far as possible from the eyes of the U.N. inspectors. This is the Israeli phobia which Ya'alon expresses in no uncertain terms. Should it eventually turn out that Rouhani is heading to a true stop of the nuclear program this will be a tremendous surprise of the magnitude of the exposure of Libya's and Syria’s nuclear programs in the last decade, which were discovered only in very advanced stages.


amirr@israeldefense.co.il


 

Larger original Hebrew article (omitted are parts not directly relating to Iran):

http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/482/651.html?hp=1&cat=875

 

Photo credit: Richard Swier (drrichswier.com)