Yadlin
Military Intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Iran is busy setting up two new nuclear installations, according to the head of Military Intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin. Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yadlin said that MI has indications that work has began on the installations, but did not comment on the sources.

Yadlin also told the MKs that Iran has sufficient enriched uranium to manufacture a single nuclear device and may soon have enough for making another bomb.

Tuesday was Yadlin's last appearance before the Knesset panel as head of Military Intelligence. He is due to step down after five years in the post.

Yadlin's briefing covered the entire spectrum of the security situation facing Israel and the region. "The recent security calm is unprecedented but there should be no mistake that there are efforts [by elements] in the area to grow stronger. The next military confrontation will not be between Israel and another country, but between Israel and two or three different fronts at the same time. It will not be similar to anything we have grown accustomed to during the Second Lebanon War or Operation Cast Lead," he warned.

Yadlin also said that Syria has undertaken an intensive procurement program of advanced military hardware from Russia, and that nearly everything that comes off the manufacturing line is being delivered to the Syrians.

"The systems in question are advanced, mostly mobile, and are capable of hitting air force aircraft. The effective, deadly missiles will make it more difficult for the air force to have freedom of operations," he said.

Syrian's acquisition of anti-aircraft weapons will substantially hinder the ability of Israel Air Force to gain command of the air over Syria in time of war.

"In the past we estimated that within 48-72 hours we would command the sky over Syria. Currently the assessment is that it will take more time and we will have more losses," Yadlin said.

Referring to Iran, Yadlin said that there are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 centrifuges busy enriching uranium to levels of 20 percent. "It is only a matter of time and continuously running the centrifuges until they reach 90 percent enrichment and could make military use of the material," sources who participated in the briefing said.

The Iranian nuclear installation at Qom, which was uncovered by western intelligence a year ago, is still being built under the supervision of inspectors. Iran has declared that it intends to construct 10 more installations, and information is emerging that currently two are underway.

Yadlin said that Israel continues to deter its enemies on three levels: air power, technological edge and intelligence. He said that in order to overcome these Israel's enemies have invested in offensive missiles and improvement of their air defenses.

He said that Hezbollah is continuing to grow stronger in Lebanon and has acquired advanced weaponry. Assessments in Israel are that the advanced weapons being transferred to Syria may make their way to Hezbollah in due time.

Yadlin also revealed that a great deal of data collected by the investigators of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was stolen by Hezbollah when its men attacked investigators who came to question a doctor who had been at the scene of the killing.

He also hinted at the strike on the purported Syrian nuclear installation, when he said that during his tenure he had faced two nuclear programs.

"I changed three defense ministers, two chiefs of staff and two prime ministers, I had two wars and confronted two nuclear programs in enemy countries. I headed a team of thousands who work 24 hours a day to collect information that the enemy is not handing out freely, information that must be taken out of difficult places and that needs to be processed, questioned and prepared in the form of insights that can be passed on to be used by my clients," Yadlin said.

With regards to the Palestinians, Yadlin said that reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is unlikely, and that tensions between the two groups are only getting worse. Also, he does not believe that the PA has a real chance of returning to power in the Gaza Strip. He said that the breakout of a new intifada is also not expected to occur any moment. However, he warned that in view of the armaments available to Hamas, "an Operation Cast Lead II will be much more complicated."

"The crisis between Israel and the U.S. is a given, but the Palestinians took it out of all proportion - in an effort to bypass the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and achieve international recognition of a Palestinian state," Yadlin said.

He said that the Palestinian Authority security forces are operating against Hamas in the West Bank because they want to avoid a repetition of what took place in the Gaza Strip. Yadlin estimates that PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not intend to resign, at least not in the foreseeable future, and remains steadfastly opposed to the use of terrorism.

Yadlin believes it is possible to reach an agreement with Abbas on the refugees issue based on quotas of refugees that Israel will allow into its territory.