Jerusalem – Leading NATO officials believe that Israel, ultimately, will be forced to cope alone with the Iranian nuclear program. This was reported recently by Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert upon his return from meetings in Europe.
In the course of his visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels two weeks ago, Lieberman met with NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alesandro Minuto Rizo and with the EU NATO representative Franco Frattini.
Lieberman reported that the NATO leaders told him that Israel ultimately could not count on the international community to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“We’re stuck in Afghanistan, and European and American troops are wallowing in the Iraqi quagmire, which is something that is going to prevent the leaders of countries in Europe and America from deciding on the use of force to destroy Iran nuclear facilities,” said the NATO leaders to Lieberman. “Therefore, at the end of the day, Israel is going to have to remove the nuclear threat posed by Iran with the means at its disposal, and it won’t be able to count on international cooperation.”
Lieberman then met with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos and the former Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Asnar.
Lieberman now believes that it is the Americans and European countries’ view that there is no longer a military option with respect to Iran. He believes that if Israel were to act alone, it would win the Europeans’ and the Americans’ blessings.
Israeli political officials said yesterday that in light of the information that was revealed by the Iranian General Ali Askari, who defected to the West, the U.S. administration has modified its analysis of the situation, which now conforms to the Israeli intelligence assessment. As The Bulletin reported on Monday, Askari revealed that Iran has been making advances toward the attainment of a nuclear bomb by means of laser technology – a developmental route that was kept hidden from the inspectors.
Lieberman currently heads an Israeli task force that oversees the coordination among the security establishment that are focused on the Iranian nuclear threat. The task force forum, which was established in the wake of an agreement that was reached between Olmert and Lieberman in April, is attended by representatives of various branches within the IDF, the IDF Intelligence Branch, the Mossad, the Israel Atomic Energy Committee, the Israel National Security Council and the Israel Foreign Ministry.
This task force is supposed to submit its recommendations to the security cabinet within two months. One of the recommendations that has already been formed is to expand the scope of Israeli information broadcasts to Iran. The Strategic Affairs Ministry has demanded that the Finance Ministry allocate funds to this end in the 2008 state budget.
Lieberman has met a number of times already with the new defense minister, Ehud Barak, and has discussed the Iranian issue with him.
Sarkozy To Parents Of Kidnapped Soldiers: ‘Hezbollah Are Terrorists’
On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy termed Hezbollah “terrorists,” saying that he does not intend to meet with them. Sarkozy made these statements on Monday during a meeting with representatives of Israel’s kidnapped soldiers’ families, whom he received for a meeting at the Elysees Palace.
The members of the Regev, Goldwasser and Shalit families met with the French president at their request and asked him to use his influence to win the release of the kidnapped men. Together with the parents was Tomer Weinberg, a reservist who was seriously wounded in the incident during which his two comrades, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, were kidnapped. Those who were present at the meeting said that Sarkozy showed great sensitivity and promised to raise the subject “in every meeting he holds with representatives of the Arab world.”
When the conversation turned to the two soldiers, Sarkozy called Hezbollah “terrorists” in front of his Israeli guests.
“I have no intention of meeting with representatives of Hezbollah,” even though low-level representatives from the organization will be coming to Paris this weekend for a seminar about the internal crisis in Lebanon.
Former French President Chirac vehemently refused to call Hezbollah terrorists and even reprimanded former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who called Hezbollah a “terror organization” during a visit to Israel.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2007