Iran is serious about developing a nuclear bomb and has the ability to produce a primitive, truck-sized version of the bomb this year, the German magaziner Der Spiegel reported on Monday.
An intelligence dossier obtained by Der Spiegel shows that there is a secret military branch of Iran’s nuclear research program that answers to Tehran’s ministry of defense, according to the report.
Officials who have read this document – which is currently under review by the U.S., Germany and Israel – claim that it shows that their nuclear program aimed at producing a bomb is well advanced.
The officials said to Der Spiegel that the truck-sized bomb which they are capable of producing will have to be compressed to a size that would fit into a nuclear warhead for the strategic threat potential they desire.
Der Spiegel also wrote that Israel and the West were alarmed by the dossier’s revelations, as Iran could reach the compressed level of a nuclear bomb between 2012 and 2014.
Tehran has consistently denied that it is enriching uranium for weapons, claiming it is exclusively dedicated to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
Iran has often warned it would retaliate for any attack on its nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a drive to develop bombs. Tehran denies the charge.
Neither Israel nor the United States have ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the long running row over Iran’s disputed nuclear ambitions.
“The Americans have made conflicting comments [on the possibility of an attack on Iran],” the official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Brigadier-General Ahmad Vahidi as saying.
Earlier, Vahidi said Iran would strike back at Israeli weapons manufacturing sites and nuclear installations if it attacked the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.
Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed Middle East state. Iran has often said it has missiles able to reach Israel.
Iran, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, says its nuclear work is aimed at generating electricity, not making bombs, but its failure to convince world powers about the peaceful nature of its work has led to UN and U.S. sanctions.
According to reports Israel’s basic assumption is that diplomacy and sanctions will not gain a thing, and the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear program will be by force.
This is also the assessment of the international media, who consider an Israeli strike against Iran a near certainty.
Inside Israel’s security-strategic community, opinions are divided. Experts estimate that the air force can reach Iran and strike the nuclear installations.
Some observers note that after the bombing of the Iraqi reactor in 1981, critics of the attack claimed that Saddam Hussein would be able to rebuild in three to four years, but this never happened.
However, many defense experts say an attack against Iran is “too big a mission for Israel.” They raise two main arguments: concerns that Iran’s response will be harsh and start a general war, even if the operation fails, and more importantly, the United States’ determined opposition to an independent Israeli operation.
This view is held by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The defense experts say that without a green light from Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense minister Ehud Barak will not be able to send in the air force.
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert hoped to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program differently, and we can assume that Israel managed to delay the project by a few years; maybe even a decade. But that sort of activity has been exhausted. The Iranians have overcome the difficulties and managed to cross the “technological threshold” of enriching uranium, according to the head of Military Intelligence.