Der Spiegel reports that “The Israeli government no longer believes that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A broad consensus in favor of a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear facilities — without the Americans, if necessary — is beginning to take shape.”
In a standard line, Spiegel reports that “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to threaten the Jewish state with destruction at every opportunity. ‘If the enemy thinks they can break the Iranian nation with pressure, they are wrong,’ he said last week.”
Ahmadinejad’s remark was not a threat of destruction against Israel, but a response to Israel’s threat to bomb Iran and the EU’s threat that if it did not agree to suspend uranium enrichment it would apply further sanctions. The US, which does not deal with Iran directly, pressured the EU to act so accordingly.
Western media often quotes Ahmadinejad as saying he wants to “wipe Israel off the map” and implies that it is seeking a nuclear weapon in order to do so. However, this comment was made during a speech in which Ahmadinejad was speaking about corrupt and oppressive governments and the context was regime change. He included the Shah’s Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as regimes whose time had appropriately come before addressing Israel as another example. He did not say “Israel”, but “occupying regime of Jerusalem”, and used a metaphorical expression with an approximate meaning of “pages of time or history”, and not literally “map”.
But, as Spiegel demonstrates, virtually any remark from Ahmadinejad may be reported as being a threat of the destruction of Israel in the context of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. This has become a standard device in Western media reports, and is not limited to reports in the US.
Immediately following the above remark, Spiegel states that “Even the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, voiced in a recent Spiegel interview, his concern that Iran is sending out the message that it could ‘build the bomb in a relatively short period of time.'”
ElBaradei’s full quote from that interview is, “In my talks with Tehran, I have argued that they should suspend uranium enrichment to build trust — so far unsuccessfully. Iran’s leadership knows that the ability to enrich uranium gives it a decisive potential for deterrence, as well as prestige and influence. It’s a dodgy situation. Formally Tehran is still within the limits of the permissible. And yet the message Iran’s leadership is sending to its neighbors, as well as the rest of the world, is this: We could build the bomb in a relatively short amount of time, if we decided to do so.”
Last month, before delivering the IAEA’s latest report on Iran to the UN Security Council, ElBaradei said, “We haven’t seen indications or any concrete evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon and I’ve been saying that consistently for the last five years.”
His comment, made at the World Economic Forum, was not reported in the Western media.
The IAEA report noted that Iran has produced only “low enriched uranium”, not the highly-enriched uranium necessary to build a bomb, and that it “remains under Agency containment and surveillance”, and that it “has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.”
The report was portrayed in US media as a damning indictment of Iran’s nuclear program.
The office of Vice President Dick Cheney is reportedly in favor of a strike against Iran. Spiegel reports, “The Bush administration is divided. Vice President Dick Cheney ‘would still want an attack,’ says Flynt Leverett, a former official in the US State Department and now a Middle East expert with the New America Foundation. However he believes the secretary of state favors a different approach: ‘Condi Rice is buying time to get the president through his term.’
“Bruce Riedel, a Middle East expert who spent many years working for the CIA, says it would be ‘very difficult for this administration to start a war with Iran. There would be public uproar and congressional uproar.’ But the situation is different from Israel’s perspective, says Riedel. ‘There is some risk that Israel thinks it has limited time to act and it has a green light from American politicians.'”
The US recently approve the sale of F-22 stealth bombers to Israel.
The Jerusalem Post reports: “In the near future Israel will not be able to escape attacking Iran, Israel Radio quoted former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh as saying on Sunday.”