Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Israel's military intelligence chief says Iran is aiming for nuclear capability

It has always been fairly clear that Iran doesn't want or need an actual nuclear weapon. It has also been clear that while the West and Israel have claimed their aim was to prevent Iran from building a weapon, US, Israeli and Western policy has aimed to prevent Iran from getting what Juan Cole describes as a latent military capability.

But saying "Iran is trying to make a bomb" is more emotionally evocative than saying the more accurate "Iran reserves the right to acquire technology that could give it the option to make a bomb if it chooses". Israelis speaking in public have, as far as I've seen, always said the first, never the second.

Israeli Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin broke that pattern recently.
Yadlin said he did not think Iran actually wanted to make a bomb right now. Rather, what it wants is to become a "threshold state" - one with the capability of producing a bomb quickly when it deems the time right.

"The moment Iran succeeds in definitely establishing its status and image as a threshold state," he added, this "will enable its allies to do things they currently dare not do."
Eventually, Western speakers are going to have to back away from the position that a latent capability is the same thing as a weapon, because Iran has a latent capability. Possibly that is what is happening now. Israel is beginning to pivot into acceptance of Iran's nuclear capability. Possibly it was just a slip, a statement that was not calculated to get a wide audience.

Another concept of Yadlin's that deserves a closer look is his thought that Syria is secular and therefore not a natural member of the resistance camp with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"Syria is a secular country and, unlike Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, it does not rule out the chance of reaching a peace agreement with Israel," he said in an address to the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, he said, "is not naturally entrenched in the radical axis."
Secularists such as Nasser are just as naturally members of the resistance camp as religious figures such as Khomeinei. The most religious and most Islamist society in the world is not Iran, it is either Saudi Arabia or another of the gulf puppet dictatorships. There are religious accommodaters of Zionism like the Saudi king Abdullah and there are secular accommodaters such as Mahmoud Abbas.

I guess Israel's acceptance can be step by step. First it can accept that Iran is nuclear capable. The indication of this is that Israeli leaders will stop describing Iranian enrichment as an existential threat. Then Israel will accept that the reason its legitimacy is universally disbelieved in its region is because the state was formed on territory where non-Jewish people formed a majority and the state was formed against the will of the inhabitants. Israel's non-acceptance is for exactly the same reason White South Africa was never, and most likely would never have been, accepted in its region. Yadlin's idea that Syria "naturally" will accept Israel I guess will have to be corrected later.

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