Persian Journal – April 29, 2007
Iran's disputed nuclear programme could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying on Saturday. Asked in an interview with Germany's Focus magazine whether military action would be an option if Iran continued to defy the United Nations, Olmert said: "Nobody is ruling it out." "It is impossible perhaps to destroy the entire nuclear programme but it would be possible to damage it in such a way that it would be set back years," Olmert said.
"It would take 10 days and would involve the firing of 1,000 Tomahawk cruise missiles." Meanwhile, Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said the prime minister had spoken to the author of the Focus article, but she said Olmert did not make the comments that were attributed to him. Eisin said the meeting was not an interview and was conducted for background purposes, on the understanding it would not be used.
"The prime minister did not say these things," Eisin said.
Ulrich Schmidla, a foreign affairs editor at Focus magazine, said he would try to contact the reporter who conducted the interview, who was a regular contributor.
Iran says it is developing nuclear technology for power generation, but the West fears it is trying to build a bomb and two sets of UN sanctions have been imposed on Tehran. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged Washington on Friday to speak directly to Iran over its nuclear programme and said he was sure Tehran was ready for such talks. Focus quoted Olmert as saying UN sanctions should be given a chance to work before military action was considered.
"We must give the (UN) process time to take effect," he said. "We have no intention of attacking Iran at the moment."
Olmert said he doubted whether Iran's nuclear programme was as far advanced as Tehran said. "I don't think that Iran is about to cross the nuclear technology threshold as its leaders claim," he said. "We still have time to stop them."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proclaimed Iran's ability to enrich on an "industrial scale", but UN inspectors say it remains at test level. Iran would face further sanctions if it has not stopped enrichment by a new Security Council deadline of May 24.
Last updated 01/05/2007