Barak to Haaretz: Iran Won't Drop Nuclear Bomb on Israel

Though the Iranian government seems to have largely eluded the wave of revolutions in the Arab world, the defense minister thinks it too could collapse.

If Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, it is unlikely to bomb Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Haaretz in an Independence Day interview.

Barak said Israel should not spread public panic about the Iranian nuclear program − a position that seems to put him out of step with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in recent years has repeatedly compared the Iranian push to develop a nuclear bomb to the Third Reich’s development of increasingly sophisticated weapons.

Barak - AP - March 24, 2011

When asked whether he thinks Iran would drop a nuclear bomb on Israel, Barak said: “Not on us and not on any other neighbor.”

“I don’t think in terms of panic,” he said. “What about Pakistan, some political meltdown happens there and four bombs wind up in Iran. So what? So you head for the airport? You close down the country? Just because they got a shortcut? No. We are still the most powerful in the Middle East.”

All the same, Barak said Iranian rulers could not be relied upon to remain clearheaded.

“I don’t think that anyone can say responsibly that these ayatollahs, if they have nuclear weapons, are something you can rely on, like the Politburo or the Pentagon,” he said. “It’s not the same thing. I don’t think they will do anything so long as they are in complete control of their senses, but to say that somebody really knows and understands what will happen with such a leadership sitting in a bunker in Tehran and thinking that it’s going to fall in a few days and it is capable of doing it? I don’t know what it would do.”

Though the Iranian government seems to have largely eluded the wave of revolutions in the Arab world, Barak said it too could collapse.

“I think we are seeing the beginning of the end of the dictatorships in the Arab world, including the Iranian one,” he said.

Speaking of Israel’s failure to secure the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, despite having offered to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, Barak said he thinks Shalit could have been freed three years ago.

Commenting on his wealth, he said he was indeed a millionaire but “not a tycoon.”

“I’m no wealthier than Bibi Netanyahu or Arik Sharon,” he said. “I don’t feel that I’m more hedonistic than Ehud Olmert, or Yitzhak Rabin, or Shimon Peres.”