Why Israel is so anxious over Iran

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

A growing number of Israeli and American commentators are accusing the Israeli government of exaggerating the Iranian threat, or at least of pushing the international community into a premature or unnecessary conflict with Iran.

But just last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report that very much legitimized Israel's concerns and sense of urgency.

In the report, the IAEA noted that Iran has now installed no fewer than 2,140 centrifuges at its main underground uranium enrichment facility, giving it the ability to produce 200 kilograms (about 440 pounds) of weapons-grade uranium each year.

A bit of math reveals that given its current stockpile of enriched uranium, Iran only needs another 50 kilograms to build its first nuclear warhead. In other words, the Islamic Republic could potentially test its first nuclear bomb within three months.

These advancements have occurred in spite of a decade of international negotiations and sanctions.

And to those who continue to insist that Iran's nuclear program is purely peaceful, the IAEA would seem to disagree.

"The Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," read the IAEA report.

These public revelations of what Israel has been saying all along are concerning to Israel for two reasons:

  1. For years the international community dragged its feet and responded only with half-hearted talks and sanctions to North Korea's nuclear program, despite repeatedly promising to prevent Pyongyang from going nuclear. In 2006, North Korea tested its first nuclear bomb, and it was then too late for anyone to do anything about it.

  2. In 2007, the Obama Administration commissioned a national intelligence report that all but insisted that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program years earlier, with no intention of restarting it. Either American intelligence is less capable than the sleuthing skills of the IAEA, or the White House was deliberately trying to downplay what could be a very real existential threat to the Jewish state.

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