View Full Version : Report: Israeli Minister Says "We Will Attack Iran" If Nuke Program Continues

06-06-2008, 03:01 PM
Report: Israeli Minister Says 'We Will Attack Iran' if Nuke Program Continues


Friday, June 06, 2008

JERUSALEM — Israel will attack Iran if it doesn't abandon its nuclear program, a Cabinet minister hoping to replace embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted Friday as saying.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "will disappear before Israel does," the Yediot Ahronot daily reported. Ahmadinejad has called repeatedly for Israel's destruction.

Mofaz's spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the remarks, which were much more explicit than anything Olmert himself has said. Olmert has gone no further than hinting that Israel was prepared to use force against Iranian nuclear facilities, saying only Tuesday that "the Iranian threat must be stopped by all means. "

According to the newspaper report, Mofaz — a former chief of staff and defense minister — has concluded that international sanctions haven't curbed Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"If Iran continues its nuclear arms program — we will attack it," the newspaper quoted Mofaz as saying. "The sanctions aren't effective. There will be no choice but to attack Iran to halt the Iranian nuclear program."

There is a precedent for Israeli military action: In 1981, Israeli planes destroyed an unfinished Iraqi reactor.

An Israeli military strike against Iran would have U.S. backing, Mofaz was quoted as saying.

In Washington this week, Iran dominated Olmert's meetings with U.S. President George W. Bush, the Israeli leader told reporters. And Bush sought to reassure Israelis who are worried about the U.S. commitment to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, saying, "It's very important for the world to take the Iranian threat quite seriously, which the United States does."

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and designed to produce energy.

Mofaz's bellicose comments on Iran coincide with the launching of his campaign to replace Olmert as head of Israel's governing Kadima Party if a corruption probe pushes Olmert out of office. Mofaz is carving out a hawkish position, and earlier this week, spoke out against returning the Golan Heights, captured in the 1967 Mideast war, to Syria.

Syria and Israel recently disclosed they have resumed peace talks, with Turkey as go-between.

A recent poll of Kadima members showed the more centrist Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni easily besting Mofaz in a party leadership race.

Police are investigating Olmert on suspicion of bribe-taking, campaign funding violations and money laundering.

Olmert has said he would only resign if indicted. So far, no charges have been brought against him, but a key witness in the corruption scandal has accused the prime minister of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in part to finance a lavish lifestyle.

06-06-2008, 07:02 PM
Israel to attack Iran unless enrichment stops: minister


Dan Williams
Reuters US Online Report World News
Jun 06, 2008 08:02 EST

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential, one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's deputies said on Friday.

"If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective," Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

"Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable," said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.

It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Olmert's government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should U.N. Security Council sanctions be deemed a dead end.

Iran has defied Western pressure to abandon its uranium enrichment projects, which it says are for peaceful electricity generation rather than bomb-building. The leadership in Tehran has also threatened to retaliate against Israel -- believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal -- and U.S. targets in the Gulf for any attack on Iran.

Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, "would disappear before Israel does."

A spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not address Mofaz's comments directly but said that "all options must remain on the table" and said more could be done to put financial pressure on Tehran.

"Israel believes strongly that while the U.N. sanctions are positive, much more needs to be done to pressure the regime in Tehran to cease its aggressive nuclear program," spokesman Mark Regev said.

"We believe the international community should be considering further tangible steps such as embargoing refined petroleum headed for Iran, sanctions against Iranian businessmen traveling abroad, tightening the pressure on Iranian financial institutions and other such steps," he added.

Mofaz's remarks came as he and several other senior members of Olmert's Kadima Party prepare for a possible run for top office should a corruption scandal force the Israeli prime minister to step down.

Iranian-born Mofaz has been a main party rival of the Israeli prime minister, particularly following the 2006 elections when Olmert was forced to hand the defense portfolio to Labour, his main coalition partner, at Mofaz's expense.

Mofaz, who is also designated as a deputy prime minister, has remained privy to Israel's defense planning. He is a member of Olmert's security cabinet and leads regular strategic coordination talks with the U.S. State Department.

Israeli planes destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.

A similar Israeli sortie over Syria last September razed what the U.S. administration said was a nascent nuclear reactor built with North Korean help. Syria denied having any such facility.

Independent analysts have questioned, however, whether Israel's armed forces can take on Iran alone, as its nuclear sites are numerous, distant and well-fortified.