"Israeli cannot accept the artificial differentiations between the Hizballah terrorists, the state of Lebanon and their sponsors," said Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak in a lecture in Washington Friday, Feb. 26.
He responded to the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's prediction of Israel's early disappearance earlier Friday, alongside Syrian president Bashar Assad and Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah, by saying he did not expect it will be possible to slide toward 2011 without decisions. This will be a complicated and tough year, he said.
Referring to Nasrallah's assertion last week that Hizballah had missiles able to reach Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion international airport and Israel's ports, Barak spoke of a "bizarre anomaly." Lebanon is a UN member, it has a militia whose members serve in parliament and government; it is supported and equipped by two other UN members nations, Syria and Iran, which has inserted into Lebanon "many civil servants in uniform and without uniform from both members."
This militia (Hizballah) has 45,000 rockets and missiles that happen to cover all Israel and are part of a deployment that tells them to activate them. "It has weapons systems that some – many sovereign nations – do not have," said Barak without elaborating..
We do not seek conflict, but if attacked, "we will not chase the individual terrorists who are building and digging in among urban concentrations inside civilian populations, but take both the Lebanese government and its infrastructure and other sources of sponsorship," he stressed.
In his lecture to the Washington Institute for Near East policy, the Israeli defense minister went on to say: The IAEA when it has the will can call a spade a spade and "stop all these verbal gymnastics about what the Iranians are really doing," which Barak described as follows:
By "developing neutron sources, making an implosion, experimenting on heavy metals with an array of arabesques of simultaneously activated detonators and working intensively on two hemispheres," Iran is not just working on a Manhattan Project-like crude nuclear device, but trying to jump straight into the second- or second-and-a-half generation of nuclear warheads." He added: "Such warheads can be installed on top of ground-to-ground missiles with ranges that cover not just Israel but Moscow or Paris."
Israel cannot close its eyes to these developments, said Barak, and is obliged to be "intensive, concrete and conclusive" before this threat materializes.
And "it's not just about hegemonic, nuclear capabilities, I don't think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb are going to drop it immediately on some neighbor. They understand what may follow. They are radical but not total meshuganas."
debkafile's Washington sources confined its coverage to misquoting Barak as referring to Iran dropping a bomb on Israel – which he did not – and his closing sentence.
During his three days in United States, Barak met with defense secretary Robert Gates, secretary of state Hillary Clinton and UN secretary general Bank ki-Moon.