Israel: Iran's Nuclear Progress a Global Threat

by Julie Stahl
28t August 2010

Iran is flexing its military muscle for the second time this week after the regime said it successfully test fired a short-range, guided missile called "The Conqueror." The test launch comes two days after Iranians announced the completion of a new unmanned aircraft they're calling "The Ambassador of Death."

Iran has also started fueling it's first nuclear power plant, a development Israel is watching very closely. But most Israeli reaction to the fueling of Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr has been muted. 

One Israeli official said Iran's operational nuclear plant was "totally unacceptable" and called on the international community to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment activities.

But for the most part, Israeli officials are not commenting publicly because they see a nuclear Iran as a global problem, not just an Israeli one.  Privately, though, they say Israel is more concerned with what is going on at secret nuclear facilities and uranium enrichment plants in Iran than at the civilian reactor at Bushehr.

Fueling began last week at Iran's first nuclear power plant. Moscow helped build the plant and has promised to prevent material from the site from being used in any potential atomic weapons production.

Israeli analysts told CBN News that the fueling the Bushehr reactor has no strategic or military significance, but it does have other implications.

"It signifies Russia's willingness to go with the project all the way and complete the project and show the world and show Iran that Russia keeps its word towards Iran," Yiftah Shapir, with the Institute for National Security Studies said.

The United Nations has imposed four rounds of sanctions. Still, Iran has continued to accumulate nuclear technology with the growing impression that the West is not going to react to their recent activities.

"The government of Tehran will say 'Ok, you see, I told you the West is weak, the West will not react.' Now we know from history that such situations are very dangerous," Professor Shmuel Sandler, with Bar-IIan University Ramat-Gan, said.

Last week, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said once the fueling process began, the window for an Israeli military strike would probably close. But Shapir disagrees.

"There are other facilities that really support the military program. The fact that Bushehr has become operational does not close any window of opportunity if we have such a window, and Israel intended to bomb Iran," he said.

For now, Iran is making nuclear progress as the world waits for sanctions to take effect. But if that fails, it looks like the military option against Iran's nuclear program is still on the table.