Yesterday Olmert made his first major speech in the aftermath of the NIE, which from Israel’s perspective was a historic disaster.
Mr Olmert said Iran had no need to “act with frenzied haste” to enrich uranium unless it wanted to develop weapons. …
In a speech at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, the Israeli prime minister said last week’s US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran should not prompt a reduction in international pressure on the country to halt its uranium enrichment activities.
The US and its European allies on the UN Security Council have been pushing for tougher UN sanctions, but Russia and China have said the report raises questions about the need for new measures.
“Iran continues its activities to enrich uranium, and even according to the NIE report, it is likely to accumulate sufficient amounts to create a nuclear weapon by 2010,” Mr Olmert said.
“Iran was, and remains dangerous, and we must continue international pressure with full force to dissuade Iran from nuclear tendencies.”
Mr Olmert said that while continuing to produce enriched uranium – which can be used as the basis of a nuclear bomb – the Islamic republic was also developing sophisticated electrical systems and ballistic missiles.
He added that Iran had no need for electricity produced by nuclear power, did not have the infrastructure to create energy for civilian purposes, and had no need to act with “frenzied haste” to create enriched uranium unless it wanted to develop nuclear weapons.
Mr Olmert also praised US President George W Bush for declaring that the NIE report still did not detract from the danger Iran posed to the world and that he would continue to push for a third UN sanctions resolution.
“I trust and am confident that the United States will continue to lead the international campaign to stop the development of a nuclear Iran,” he said.
Israel, widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, says repeated statements by Iran’s president that the Jewish state should cease to exist are evidence of an intention to use nuclear weapons against it in the future.
If the United States did consciously throw Israel under the bus in exchange for a fleeting grasp at an Iraq settlement, the reason was that after Olmert’s pathetic mismanagement of Israeli’s 2006 war against Hezbollah — and subsequent ability to retain power, despite approval ratings of 2-9 percent (“two to nine percent”) until the Syria airstrike.
The “security consensus” was that the IDF had the capability to smash Hezbollah, but Olmert’s (and the Israeli leadership’s) politicization of the war resulted in acute mismanagement, culminating in a decisive Hezbollah victory.
After this occurred, the United States (the narrative goes) began a fundamental re-evaluation of its security relationship with Israel. From the American policy standpoint, Israel is a very potent, but even more expensive, arm of American policy in the region. Besides the explicit subsidies the United States gives to Israel every year, the United States receives a heaping of blame for everything Israel does. Furthermore, Israel has been an extremely unfaithful partner in the relationship. A raft of Israelis have been caught stealing American technology and military secrets over the years. The Chinese F-10 (the most advanced fighter China has ever produced) was a complete copy of the Israeli Lavi, which itself was based heavily on American technology.
If Israel’s war machine were reliable, perhaps that price would be worth paying. But after Israel’s institutional failure in the summer of 2006, and institutional paralysis ever since, (so the narrative turns) the United States began to see Israel as much less an indispensable ally and much more a bargaining chip.
Israel will be key to Mideastern stability over the next several months. Olmert is pathetically weak, but his political weakness at home has dramatically strengthened the hand of the hawks within his cabinet. Israel now is as likely to attack its neighbors as ever.