Calling Bibi’s Bluff On Iran’s Nukes

The former ten-year chief of Israel’s atomic agency came out swinging the other day:

Brigadier General (res.) Uzi Eilam does not believe that Tehran is even close to having a bomb, if that is even what it really aspires to. “The Iranian nuclear program will only be operational in another 10 years,” declares Eilam, a senior official in Israel’s atomic Benjamin Netanyahu Chairs Weekly Israeli Cabinet Meetingprogram. “Even so, I am not sure that Iran wants the bomb.” Uzi Eilam comes from the heart of Israel’s secret security mechanisms, having served in senior roles in the defense establishment that culminated in a decade as the head of the atomic agency. His comments are the first by a senior official that strongly criticize Netanyahu’s policies on the Islamic Republic.

“The statements and threats made regarding an attack on Iran did not help,” Eilam says. “We cannot lead the charge on this front. As far as the project goes, Iran’s nuclear facilities are scattered and buried under tons of earth, concrete and steel. This would require more than one strike, such as on the nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria. A strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would in effect be the opening salvo in all-out war.”

There have been many adults in Israel who have resisted the Cheney-esque hysterics of the Netanyahu government, and Bibi’s campaign to persuade Americans to go to war for Israel against Iran. But this is one of the most high-profile yet – assailing a pillar of Netanyahu’s foreign policy paranoia. I’m not sure what is really motivating Netanyahu – his father’s Manichean apocalypticism? history’s burden? an abundance of caution? – but I have to say I find it increasingly likely that all this drama about Iran’s nuclear program is actually about something else. It’s a very useful distraction while the long-term annexation of the West Bank can proceed to its natural end-point: a second 1948, to finish off the first.

(Photo from Getty Images)