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Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak sharply criticizes Bush handling of Iran’s nuclear weapons program

December 12, 2007, 4:16 PM (GMT+02:00)
Barak is waiting for next US president

Barak is waiting for next US president

DEBKAfile’s sources report: The penny has finally dropped in Jerusalem. After years of waiting for the US-led “international community” to deal with Iran’s nuclear aspirations, a senior Israeli official has finally spoken out against the way President George W. Bush’s addressed the threat. Barak said the US government had not done what was necessary for building an international coalition and a broad consensus capable of twisting Iran’s arm on its nuclear plans. Now, said the Israeli defense minister, it is too late for Bush and his administration to arrest Iran’s nuclear progress and it will have to wait for the next president.

He was addressing the founding meeting of the Israel Institute for National Strategy at Tel Aviv University Wednesday, Dec. 12. Present in the audience were security officials, former army officers, and many American intelligence personnel.

IDF Chief of staff Lt. Gen Gaby Ashkenazi, who also addressed the event, said if the international community does not succeed in stopping the nuclearization of Iran, the Israel Defense forces must be prepared “for any scenario.” This was the first time a high Israeli military officer has raised the possibility of IDF action against Iran.

Another speaker, former US Central Intelligence Agency deputy director John McLaughlin heaped scorn on the National Intelligence Estimate which found that Iran had put its nuclear weapons program on ice in 2003. He said the report was full of mistakes and flaws.

DEBKAfile adds: Barak’s views on the Iranian nuclear issue are not shared by prime minister Ehud Olmert. Unlike Barak who prefers to bide his time for the next occupant of the White House in Jan. 2009, Olmert is in lockstep with president Bush and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on the Palestinian and Syrian issues, despite the many complaints that their policies run contrary to Israel’s national and security interests.

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