Needless to say, it isn’t often that a retired, well respected general disputes official policy. But war leader and “pillar of the defence establishment” Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam has gone public with his views that Iran is a very long way from having nuclear weapons capability. Eilam contends that the official view is “hysterical” and attributes it to political objectives on behalf of both the military and government leaders.
From the Times Online (hat tip reader Marshall):
A general who was once in charge of Israel’s nuclear weapons has claimed that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capability”.
Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam…believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons…
Israeli forces have been in training to attack Iranian nuclear installations and some analysts believe airstrikes could be launched this year if international sanctions fail to deter Tehran from pursuing its programme.
Eilam, who is thought to be updated by former colleagues on developments in Iran, calls his country’s official view hysterical. “The intelligence community are spreading frightening voices about Iran,” he said.
He suggested that the “defence establishment is sending out false alarms in order to grab a bigger budget” while some politicians have used Iran to divert attention away from problems at home.
“Those who say that Iran will obtain a bomb within a year’s time, on what basis did they say so?” he asked. “Where is the evidence?”…
According to well-placed defence sources, Israel is speeding up preparations for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear sites…
But Eilam argues “such an attack [against Iran] would be counter-productive”.
“One strike is not practical. In order to delay the Iranian programme for three to four years, one needs an armada of aircraft, which only a super-power can provide. Only America can do it.”
Readers may have taken note of the fact that the US is now of the view that Iran’s long-term stability is in doubt and is more actively looking to back the opposition. But as we found with Iraq, reports from the opposition and/or exiles seeking US aid can be less than reliable (remember the claim that US troops would be welcomed with flowers? Since when has a foreign occupier been welcomed by the locals?). Moreover, efforts that are so open that the US newspapers are writing about them are likely to backfire. The opposition then can be portrayed as a tool of the US, and painted as serving the interests of Israel, not the Iranian people.