Israel unlikely to attack Iran before next Spring
After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a cartoon diagram of a bomb and a penned-in red line during his address to the UN General Assembly last week to describe Iranian nuclear capability, the video of the speech went viral.
Some mocked the speech for taking a humorous, simplistic approach to a grave and complex subject, but Discovery Institute Fellow author John Wohlstetter told Human Events Netanyahu’s science was sound–and had his crowd right where he wanted them.
“The main point he wanted to make was that we have to have a red line, and here’s the red line,” Wohlstetter said. “That diagram was very good for public education. And it’s the kind of thing with luck it will make the news on all the channels here, it will be all over the internet, of course people will follow it.”
The surprisingly quick and telescoping timeline for nuclear enrichment and weaponization is also outlined in Wohlstetter’s new book “Sleepwalking with the Bomb,” published last month by Discovery Institute Press.
To get to three-and-a-half percent enrichment of uranium ore takes roughly 11 months, Wohlstetter said, according to estimates from the American Enterprise Institute. To reach 20 percent–medical-grade enrichment–takes only another month. Then, a week to reach weapons-grade uranium, and a day to assemble a nuclear weapon.
“When they’re already at commercial-grade, they’re already most of the way there,” he said.
As Netanyahu described in his speech, Iran is believed to have completed the first phase of enrichment. The instantly-famous “red line” he drew on his bomb diagram would stop Iran’s enrichment process before the country finished its second phase.
Wohlstetter said he believes Netanyahu was also making clear that Israel does not expect to take any military action against Iran until next spring, when the prime minister said he expects the country to be completing its second stage of enrichment.
And what happens here in November, Wohlstetter said, may determine how much more we know. If Obama is still in office in the spring, Netanyahu may inform the U.S. his country is taking action without asking for input. If Romney is president, the process may be more collaborative.
“The election is hugely in play, because Obama is not disposed to be friendly toward Israel. He came in saying he wanted to put space between us and Israel to reach out to the Muslim world,” he said. “…He’s praying that Romney gets in, then he’ll have a friend in the White House and things will be a lot easier.”
If Republican challenger Mitt Romney does win the election, Wohlstetter said he should immediately conference with Netanyahu about how to proceed with Iran.
“They have to decide, do we have time to give Iran one last ultimatum,” he said. “Open up now, access to all facilities, and you have 30 days, you have ten days to do it, and don’t tell us you can’t do it. And if you don’t do it, we will consider you breached. And then we reserve the right to take action.”
If Obama does stay in office, Wohlstetter said he worries about Obama’s idealism in a world where dictators exist who would allow their own nations to be devastated in order to obliterate their enemies.
“The more careful of the ‘nuclear zero’ people say it’s a very long way away,” he said. “But Obama and his people give every sign of wanting to move as close as they can get to it in the second term. That’s way premature and very dangerous.”