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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looked up over the pile of mail on his desk and bestowed his embarrassed smile on the Iranian information minister, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, who came to present him with the up-to-date assessments regarding the Israeli threat. The white-bearded minister, who became well-known when he bit a reformist reporter while serving in his previous position as public prosecutor, was worried.

"Mr. President, we have identified dangerous developments in the Zionist regime that increase the likelihood of a confrontation."

"What are you referring to?"

"The prime minister of the Zionist entity, Ehud Olmert, described our nuclear program as an existential threat and said that Israel would not be able to accept nonconventional capabilities in our hands. He appointed as minister for strategic threats Avigdor Lieberman, who has previously threatened to attack Tehran and wants to destroy entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Olmert is going to meet the president of America, George Bush, soon, and it appears that these two are plotting something against us."

"So is this talk backed up by military fortification, or are these empty slogans?"

"The Zionists took advantage of their war against our brothers in Hezbollah to get smart bunker-buster bombs, which can destroy our nuclear facilities, from the Americans. They appointed their air force commander, Elyezer Shkedy, as Iran commander, and he will coordinate the military preparations against us. And now they decided to increase the defense budget by billions in order to prepare for us."

"Our spies in Tel Aviv told you all this?"

"No, everything appeared in their media. It looks like someone there wants to scare us, or else they took it seriously when you threatened, Mr. President, to wipe Israel off the map."

"What do we know about this Olmert? Is he capable of waging war against us?"

"He says that Iran is a global problem, not an Israeli one, and is trying to incite the Americans against us. But his government is in trouble, he is accused of corruption, his political plan fell apart, and he is liable to look for an outlet in a military adventure. When it comes to the Zionists, weak governments hit hard. Menachem Begin blew up the reactor of the Iraqi sinners when he was on the way to losing the election, and Olmert waged all-out war in Lebanon because of the abduction of two soldiers."

"And what does history show?"

"Every time the Zionist army armed and fortified itself, an Israeli-initiated war broke out in the end. That's what happened in 1956, in 1967, and in 1982. When the Zionists promised to reduce mandatory military service, it was an Arab initiative that led to the outbreak of war - in 1973, in 2000, and in 2006. That's why we have to strictly monitor what happens in the Israeli occupation army, and especially in its air force, and also to discover what is going on in the talks conducted by the Zionists and the Americans."

As an engineer who has been trained to find mathematical solutions to the problems facing him, Ahmadinejad pressed his information minister to provide a precise assessment.

"Speak in numbers, Gholam-Hossein, speak in percentages. What is the probability that the Zionists will attack?"

The minister squirmed. "In the name of Allah, it's tough for me to say, Mr. President. What's clear to me only is that now is a more dangerous time than any other in the past, and we must not be complacent. It's worthwhile to learn from the experience of the Zionists themselves and not to take the enemy lightly or think it won't attack. Their intelligence believed that there was a low probability of an Egyptian and Syrian attack in 1973, ignored the signs on the ground, and made a mistake. And our heretic predecessors from the Shah's regime traveled at the time to train and learn from the Israeli Mossad! What insanity! What irresponsibility!"

"Okay, okay. And now tell me, what do you want?"

"What do you mean? A bigger budget - a much bigger one."