Iranian scientists have already managed to enrich enough radioactive material to successfully produce not just one, but four nuclear bombs, Israel’s military intelligence chief has announced.
General Aviv Kochavi broke the news at a security conference on Thursday. The intelligence chief says he believes Iran would need a year from the word go to actually producing a crude device, and another year or two to manufacture a nuclear warhead that can be installed on a ballistic missile.
Kochavi also claimed that “Iran is very actively pursuing its efforts to develop its nuclear capacities, and we have evidence that they are seeking nuclear weapons.”However, no actual evidence was produced or even referred to at the conference.
The Israeli Deputy PM added fuel to the fire, claiming that Iran has also succeeded in building a long-range missile capable of putting the US within its reach. Moshe Ya’alon, who had just returned from Washington where he discussed the Iran situation with President Obama’s administration, chose to echo Kochavi’s words of warning, saying “The Israeli government will stop Iran one way or another.”
These latest statements are very much in line with the position of Israel and its allies who are accusing Iran of using its nuclear industry to mask plans to develop nuclear arms, a charge official Tehran has frequently and vehemently denied.
Israel, backed by its key ally the United States, has long pushed for tougher sanctions against Iran. Top level officials in both Tel Aviv and Washington DC have recently said they do not rule out a military attack against the Islamic Republic.
As sparks continue to fly around the powder keg of Iran’s supposed nuclear ambitions, the Middle Eastern state is not playing dead either. A defiant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Thursday that the country is planning to double its military spending over the next year; a sign that is being interpreted by many as “taking a stand” against pressure from the West.
The United States and their NATO allies are also flexing their muscles, with recent transfers of US fighter jets and other military planes to the region. Troops have also been reportedly arriving at various American military bases in the Persian Gulf, with another ten thousand soldiers recently transferred to Israel – allegedly to test the US anti-ballistic missile defense system.
On top of that, two US Navy aircraft carriers – the USS Abraham Lincoln and Carl Vinson – are on patrol in the Persian Gulf and are expected to be joined by the USS Enterprise in March. The USS Annapolis, a nuclear submarine, was earlier reported to have entered the Red Sea and is rumored to be heading towards the Gulf as well.
Together with the US military bases already established in the region – for example, the 5th Fleet, stationed in Bahrain – all of this is interpreted by many as nothing shy of intimidation, and some experts believe the US is trying to provoke Iran into making the first move.