HERZLIYA, Israel Ñ The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon has been urged to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program.
A senior Israeli parliamentarian regarded as a leading expert on Iran's
strategic programs has warned the Sharon government that it cannot rely on
the United States to stop Teheran's nuclear weapons project. The
parliamentarian said Iran will achieve independent nuclear weapons
capability over the next year.
"If we don't act by ourselves, then others won't do anything," Knesset
member Ephraim Sneh told a strategic conference in Herzliya on Tuesday.
"They will only do something if they know that we will act, providing no
other alternative. This moment is
approaching," Middle East Newsline reported.
Sneh, a minister in previous Israeli governments, warned of Iran's
nuclear capability as early as 1993 and helped draft policy that called for
U.S. pressure to stop Russian technology to Teheran. He is a member of the
Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee, which receives frequent intelligence
briefings on Iran's nuclear weapons program.
"In 2004, or at the latest 2005, Iran will arrive at the point of
no-return for nuclear weapons," Sneh, echoing an assessment by Israel's
intelligence community, said. "This means that it will no longer require
foreign assistance to produce a nuclear weapon."
Sneh warned that an Iranian nuclear bomb will destroy the fabric of
Israeli society. He said Israel's government will be intimidated by an
Iranian atomic bomb and that the nation's elite will flee to avoid an
Iranian nuclear attack.
"People will leave here and not come back if they think Iran could use
such weapons," Sneh said. "How would a government in Jerusalem confront
nuclear weapons against an irrational regime. We will be limited in every
Israeli officials said Sneh's remarks reflects those of the nation's
intelligence community. They said Israel has urged the United States to stop
Iran's nuclear program during 2004 before Teheran's reaches indigenous
But U.S. analysts who appeared with Sneh during a discussion of Iran
frowned on a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. They said the
Bush administration had little stomach for another military confrontation
amid the campaign to stabilize Iraq.
Patrick Clawson, head of research at the Washington Institute, said the
United States can delay Iran's nuclear weapons program by between two and 10
years with a military intervention. Clawson said a U.S. assassination
campaign against leading Iranian scientists could be more effective than an
air strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
"It could be what Israel did in Egypt in the 1960s, making certain that
key people in meet an untimely accident."