MI Chief Warns That Iran Will Produce Nuclear Bomb by 2010

Defense Ministry official raps Peres for interview in which he said Iran, too, could be 'wiped out.'

Iran will have acquired nuclear bombs by 2010, the head of Israel's Military Intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

Yadlin said that in January 2006, the Iranians had succeeded in enriching uranium at the Natanz facility, some 200 km south of Tehran. He said that during the short period since, Iran had managed to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent, indicating that they had been working on secret projects.

"In order to manufacture nuclear weapons, they have to be able to produce 25 kilograms of enriched uranium and they are still at the stage of [producing] grams," he said.

Peres rapped for Iran commentsMeanwhile, senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad rapped Vice Premier Shimon Peres on Tuesday for an interview Peres gave the day before in which he said that "Iran, too, can be destroyed.

Gilad said that Israel should not use language of threats in dealing with Tehran, nor should it place itself on the frontline of the Iran nuclear issue.

"Israel does not need to spearhead treatment on the Iran matter because this is a world problem. We suggest not adopting a language of threats. It is tremendously important for the world to isolate Hamas and it is tremendously important to isolate Iran," said Gilad.

"International cooperation and legitimacy is important for Israel. Even if we later demand other options it is important for us to pass the necessary course of legitimacy and international support," he added.

Participants in a Tuesday defense establishment meeting said it is necessary to prepare for military options against Iran, but urged taking diplomatic steps for the time being.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said Tuesday that the debate on whether Israel should threaten Iran was diminishing the effect of Peres' statement.

Peres, speaking ahead of UN Security Council deliberations on possible sanctions on Iran, cautioned Monday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, should bear in mind that his own country could also be destroyed.

"They want to wipe out Israel... Now when it comes to destruction, Iran too can be destroyed [but] I don't suggest to say an eye for an eye," Peres told Reuters.

"Israel would defend itself under any condition but we don't look upon it as an Iranian-Israeli conflict exclusively... [Iran] is basically a danger to the world, not just to us," he said.

The Security Council is due to vote Wednesday or Thursday on the American-European resolution proposal on the Iranian nuclear issue. Diplomats in the UN headquarters said Monday that despite Russia and China's firm position against the mandatory wording of the proposal, the two would not use their veto to thwart its adoption.

It is assumed that the required majority of nine members to adopt the resolution is assured. If Russia and China abstain, Qatar, the non permanent member in the council, is expected to join them.

Peres said Iran was mocking the international community's attempts to resolve the crisis over its nuclear ambitions and that the credibility of the United Nations Security Council was on the line.

Russia and China are against provisions in the draft proposal by the U.S., Britain and France that invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. This could imply Iran's nuclear program is a threat to global security and pave the way for sanctions - or even military action - against Iran.

Ahmedinejad on Monday wrote to U.S. President George W. Bush, offering "new solutions" to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The letter is the first public approach by an Iranian president to an American one since the Islamic revolution in the country in 1979.

Iranian government spokesman Gulamhussein Elham said Ahmedinejad's letter deals with the nuclear issue, but did not say whether it referred to the possibility of direct talks with the U.S.

More than any of his recent predecessors, Ahmedinejad has raised hackles in the United States, by asserting that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Bush told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper such comments should be seen as a serious threat to Israel and other countries.