Israel pessimistic IAEA Iran report will change anything

Israel pessimistic IAEA Iran report will change anything

The forthcoming International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran's nuclear programme is unlikely to make a difference to the efforts to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, an Israeli nuclear and arms control expert said Tuesday, dpa reported.

"I don't believe it will, or can, change much," Dr Ephraim Asculai, a senior research fellow at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, said.

The IAEA document, expected to be published Wednesday, is reportedly thought to disclose new details on Iran's efforts to produce nuclear weapons.

Israel views a nuclear Iran as its biggest existential threat, especially given President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements that the Jewish state should be wiped from the map.

In Israel, the IAEA report is seen as perhaps the last chance to convince the international community to impose stricter sanctions on Iran, as a means of deterring it from continuing with its nuclear programme.

But at the same time, officials and expert are pessimistic this will in fact be the result.

Asculai told dpa that harsher sanctions against Iran were needed, but pointed out that so long as Western countries insisted on trying to get them through the United Nations Security Council, objections from Russia and China mean that this was unlikely to happen.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak told a radio interviewer that "we are probably at the last opportunity for coordinated, international, lethal sanctions that will force Iran to stop."

But, he added, he was he was "not optimistic" about any international actions, specifically "deadly sanctions" arising from the IAEA report. Recent articles in the Israel media have led to speculation that Israel has decided to attack Iran, in order to prevent Ahmadinejad from getting his finger on the nuclear trigger.

The reports, coming only 10 or so days before the IAEA report, may have been deliberately timed to send a warning to Iran's leaders.

In which case, they do not seem to have worked, at least not if public rhetoric from Tehran is any indication.

Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran would not back down from its nuclear programme.

But given the Israeli pessimism regarding the possibility the IAEA report will actually change anything, it is equally likely that the reports in the Israeli media were intended to pressure not Iran, but Western countries who fear an Israeli attack on Iran, and the inevitable ramifications for a turbulent region and beyond.

The message is that unless harsh sanctions are adopted, Israel, which sees the Iranian nuclear programme as a matter of life and death, could strike.

So far, and based on public pronouncements, this does not seem to have worked.

Russian President Dimitri Medvedev accused Israel of creating a threatening situation and of using "dangerous rhetoric" that could lead to a war.

Barak said Tuesday that no decision on a military strike has yet bee made.

"Israel has not yet decided to take action," he said.

But, sticking to the principle of uncertainty being a form of deterrence, he repeated a well-worn Israeli mantra, saying that unless so ling as harsh sanctions were not imposed, Israel was recommending not to take any option off the table.

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