Israel vows to halt Iranian nuclear drive Hopes riding on talks to defuse tension

BUENOS AIRES, March 17, (Agencies): A top Israeli official vowed Friday to “prevent Iran from acting” if it seeks to use a nuclear weapon, amid growing impatience over Tehran’s refusal to come clean on its nuclear program.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned on a visit to Argentina that a nuclear-armed Iran would have “ramifications throughout the world” and allow Tehran to “achieve hegemony in the Middle East.
“In the worst case scenario, Iran could use a nuclear weapon,” he said in Buenos Aires.
“We will protect our citizens, our interests everywhere in the world and prevent Iran from acting.”
Daniel Carmon, deputy director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, called Iran “a threat to the entire world,” stressing that “this threat requires an immediate response.”
They spoke during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.
Israel, like the United States, has refused to rule out military action against Tehran, fearing that its uranium enrichment program masks a drive to build a nuclear bomb. Iran denies the charges, insisting its program is aimed at producing energy and other peaceful purposes.
But Washington, which has no diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, has stressed there is still time to resolve the standoff. Israel considers Iran a threat to its very existence.
Carmon was consul in Buenos Aires when the Israeli Embassy was destroyed on March 17, 1992 in a car bomb attack that left 22 people dead and 200 wounded.
“Iran was directly responsible for what happened here,” he said.
Two years later, a bombing leveled a Jewish charity building in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. Israel also accuses Iran of being responsible for that attack.
The blast that destroyed the seven-story AMIA building, also injuring 300 people, was the most serious attack against Argentina’s Jewish community, the biggest in Latin America with an estimated 300,000 members.
On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama warned Iran that the window for diplomacy to solve a nuclear showdown was “shrinking,” stiffening his rhetoric ahead of looming new talks on the issue.
Iran’s parliament speaker on Saturday compared Israel to a barking dog that won’t dare attack the Islamic republic over its controversial nuclear program.
“They make a lot of fuss about it but don’t dare to attack Iran,” Ali Larijani said of Israel. His comments were posted on the parliament’s website. “They are like dogs that keep barking but are not for attacks.”
“Israel won’t make the mistake of attacking Iran because it’s not prepared to play with its own destiny,” said Larijani.
Larijani is Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator and intensely loyal to the country’s cleric-led regime. His barbed comments are sure to ratchet up tension over Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel and the US have threatened that all options remain open, including military action, if Iran continues with uranium enrichment, a program that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or fissile material for an atomic bomb.
Israeli officials have increased their verbal threats against Iran in recent months, saying a window of opportunity is closing to militarily halt or delay Iran’s nuclear program because Tehran is moving more of its nuclear installations underground.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that a strike on Iran “is not a matter of days or weeks, but it’s also not a matter of years.”
Israel considers Iran an existential threat because of its nuclear and missile programs and repeated references by Iranian leaders to Israel’s destruction.
Hopes are riding high that mooted talks between Iran and world powers will de-escalate a dangerous showdown over Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme.
While Iran and the so-called P5+1 comprising the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany, are expected to soon agree a date and place for reviving their long-stalled talks, the spectre of military confrontation looms large.
Israel has kept up warnings of air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent the Islamic republic obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.
A majority of Israel’s 14-member security cabinet now supports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak in launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran in a bid to end its nuclear programme, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Thursday, citing political sources it did not identify.
“Israel is very close to the point when a very tough decision should be made — the bomb or the bombing,” former military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told reporters last week.
The United States, meanwhile, is positioning three of its aircraft carriers near Iran, according to the US navy on its official website.
The USS Enterprise a week ago left its home port to join the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Carl Vinson that are already in the region. The Lincoln in January sailed through the strategic Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf, testing Iranian threats against the Vinson in that body of water.
The US navy is also doubling the number of minesweeping ships and helicopters based in the Gulf, according to testimony by its chief, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, to US senators.
US President Barack Obama has warned that Iran’s leaders have to understand that “the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking.”
Iran maintains its nuclear programme is purely peaceful even though this year it blocked UN inspectors from visiting a specific area of a military base suspected to have hosted nuclear warhead research.
Meanwhile, the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons and a possible Israeli military strike are not the usual ingredients of comedy.
But Israelis are responding to the heated rhetoric and dire warnings with comic skits and Daffy Duck - gallows humor in the face of what their leaders say is a real danger.
It’s no laughing matter, but that hasn’t stopped Israel’s premier satirical TV show from taking it on.
Eretz Nehederet (A Wonderful Country) recently showed a skit with two women at a restaurant.
“You’ve started working out again?” says one, biting into a juicy hamburger. “Of course, winter’s almost over and I don’t want to get to the beach double my size,” her friend responds. The first woman asks: “What beach? That thing with Iran is happening this summer.” Realizing the futility of a diet when the end is so near, the friend devours the burger.
Other TV comedy shows are also awash with Iran jokes. Comedians on a recent episode of “State of the Nation” declared that Israel won’t mount an airstrike because fuel prices for the fighter planes are too high.
A Facebook group is calling for Netanyahu not to start a war until after Madonna performs in Israel in May.
In a recurring Eretz Nehederet skit, viewers are given an inside look into an Iranian nuclear reactor. When two scientists are asked where their third colleague is, the response is delivered deadpan: “He was blown up,” a reference to the suspicious deaths of a number of Iranian nuclear scientists, which Iran has blamed on Israel.

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Israel's threat against IranCephas Keith Reyes, PhD | 3/19/2012 2:01:37 AM Israel threat to attack Iran President Obama has found himself in an untenable position. Israel's intention to attack Iran reveals a myopic miscalculation. Any such attack would polarize and herald confrontation between the nuclear powers. Iran is no Iraq. Israel is poised to drag the US into World War 3; a nuclear war. Excluding the US and Israel, there are seven nuclear countries; four of these are definitely pro Iran and three could be considered neutral but likely to be pro Iran. This leaves the US and its surrogate Israel in a very vulnerable position if such a preemptive attack on Iran is taken. For starters, Russia, China and North Korea have telegraphed caution against such action by the US and Israel indicating that they will not stand idly by. As its benefactor, the US has a moral responsibility to deter Israel from such a reckless adventure. Israel's misguided belligerence and fanaticism in threatening to attack Iran is in keeping with their mythical belief that their God gave them a land called Israel. Successive Israeli leaders have failed to drum into the heads of the ordinary populace that the land of Israel was only created in 1948 when the US and England manipulated Palestine into giving its western strip as a homeland to the persecuted Jews in the Diaspora. Israel's atrocity against the Palestinians is the worst form of ingratitude imaginable. The US has provided Israel with the most lethal nuclear arsenal to flex its muscle and defy the UN in its atrocities against the Palestinians; all with the complicity of the US. Iran is one of the earliest civilizations and ten times the size of Israel. What right does the US have to tell Iran and other sovereign nations what they can and cannot do? Cephas Keith Reyes, Burnaby, Canada
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