This is the situation: To become a nuclear power Iran needs three things - missiles, the capability to produce a nuclear warhead, and fissionable material. Iran has Shihab 3 missiles and apparently also the ability to assemble a nuclear warhead. The hurdle still facing Iran is the fissionable material.
Iran has been making every effort to build up a critical mass of enriched uranium that would allow it to assemble its first nuclear weapon.
There are about 5,000 centrifuges operating in Iran's underground facility in Natanz. As of now they have produced one ton of low-enriched uranium. To produce a nuclear weapon Iran needs a ton and a half. The centrifuges in Natanz are capable of producing the rest in less than a year, and if that happens, Iran will be able to change the rules of the game and switch from low enrichment to high enrichment - and build a bomb.
If Iran becomes a nuclear power, this will have quite a few ramifications. Iraq, Kuwait and the Emirates are likely to recognize Iranian hegemony and take shelter under its umbrella. Egypt and Saudi Arabia may also go nuclear and turn the Middle East into an unstable, multi-polar nuclear region. Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas may very well take advantage of the Iranian nuclear umbrella to challenge Israel with serious conventional conflicts on several fronts.
The radical forces in the Middle East may also use the Iranian power as a lever to help them overthrow moderate Arab regimes. Iranian nuclear capabilities may leak to terrorist organizations, which may use them as threats without the restraints of international deterrence that exist between nations.
The significance is clear: Even if Iran does not use its nuclear weapons, the fact that it has such weapons will change the world. A world with a third of its energy resources under Iranian patronage is a different world. A world subjected to the caprices of a nuclear Middle East is a different world. A world in which Israelis and Europeans live under an Islamic cloud of fear is a different world, one in which Western civilization is threatened and Israel faces a threat to its existence.
The 2009 election campaign was a circus. Never before has Israel held such fateful elections on such a superficial level. The existential question was never mentioned. The question of whether our leaders are capable of dealing with the issue was not discussed. The DJ's booth at the Haoman 17 club was what separated the voters and the difficult, historical truth.
The present coalition negotiations are also a farce. Never before has such an important Israeli government been established under such a heavy covering of nonsense.
Yes, the two-state solution is critical, but a sustainable Palestinian state will not rise in the next year even if Tzipi Livni is prime minister and Yossi Beilin is foreign minister. But if by the summer of 2010 Iran is a nuclear power, that will destroy any chances of peace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not survive the fanatical wave that will flood the Arab world on the day Ahmadinejad announces that the Shiite Bomb is ready for use.
The insufferable dilemma is between the bomb, or to bomb. Both possibilities are disastrous. Israel has only a few months to formulate a third possibility, but to wake the world up at the last minute and convince the Obama administration, Israel needs a sane government. Israel needs a national unity government.
For the last three years Tzipi Livni has been foreign minister. During this precious time she did not do a single substantive thing to stop the centrifuges of Natanz. Livni's failure vis-a-vis Iran is so much more serious than Golda's before the Yom Kippur War.
But Livni's decision to thwart a national emergency government is no longer just a failure; it is a patently immoral decision that endangers Israel's future. Kadima must immediately reverse the irresponsible decision. History will never forgive any Israeli who stood in the way at this time of truth.
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