While Iran’s nuclear weapons program poses a grave threat to Israel, the Bushehr reactor isn’t the source of worry, says Yaakov Katz, the Jerusalem Post’s military correspondent.
John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told Fox Business Network Tuesday that with the Bushehr reaction scheduled to start going on line this weekend, Israel must act before then to destroy it.
Katz disagrees. “I don’t think Israel will take action against Bushehr,” he told Newsmax.TV. “The Bushehr reactor on its own doesn’t pose a threat to the state of Israel. What does pose a threat are the rest of Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
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Bushehr offers Iran more hope for energy than for weapons, Katz says. So Bushehr’s progress doesn’t give Israel justification to attack.
That’s not to minimize the issue, though, he says. “Iran poses an existential threat to Israel with its declared intent to destroy Israel and pursue that capability.”
Israel’s policy now is to cooperate with the international community and support sanctions.
“Israel believes sanctions can have an effect on Iran,” Katz said. Press reports already show them having an effect, though not as much as desired.
But, there will come a time when Israel has to decide whether to give sanctions more time or attack to eliminate the threat, he says.
“The time to attack Iran isn’t because Bushehr is coming on line, but when Israel believes every other course of action has been exhausted, and Iran is enriching uranium to levels required for nuclear weapons,” Katz said.
“Bushehr does demonstrate the world’s failure to stop what is possibly the greatest threat to world peace.”
Whether the Obama administration would support an Israeli attack on Iran is the million dollar question, Katz says. While Israel could launch a strike without U.S. cooperation, it would need U.S. military and diplomatic support the next day.
“If Israel attacks tomorrow, President Obama would be upset and wouldn’t support that action,” Katz said.
That’s why Israel’s policy now is to “play ball with the international community,” he said. When sanctions have exhausted themselves, then Israel can tell the United States that it can’t wait any longer to strike Iran.
“That’s what Israel’s going for -- to be able to say to the world we tried and supported everything, and now we have no choice.”
In supplying fuel for Iran’s nuclear program, Russia is playing a dangerous role, Katz says.
“On one hand, it likes to cooperate with the U.S. on different issues,” he said.
“But on the other hand, it likes to flex its muscles and show the world that we too are a world superpower, and the way to do that is knock heads with the U.S. I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing now.”
Israel worries that war is in its future, and not just because of Iraq’s nuclear ambitions, Katz says. Memories are still fresh in Israel of the small war with Hamas in Gaza during 2009 and the larger conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon during 2006.
“There is always a possibility of renewed conflict with those two terrorist organizations, which are re-arming at an unprecedented rate and have clearly declared their intent to destroy Israel. War could erupt at any moment,” he said.
Still, Israel is doing all it can to stave off war.
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