(JTA) — Iran has pulled back from the brink of achieving a nuclear weapon, opting to use over a third of its medium-enriched uranium for civilian purposes, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a British newspaper.
Iran's decision to convert that uranium into fuel rods for a civilian research reactor avoided a crisis this summer, Barak said in an interview published Tuesday in the Daily Telegraph.
Iran delayed its ability to assemble a nuclear bomb by eight to 10 months, according to Barak, who said that he does not believe sanctions and diplomacy will succeed and that Israel and its allies will have to decide sometime in 2013 whether to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
He added that Israel reserves the right to act unilaterally to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
Barak told the newspaper that Iran is progressing steadily towards its goal of a nuclear weapon. His concern, he said, is that Tehran will fortify its nuclear plants to the point where Israel’s air force will not be able to disable them by itself.
“When it comes to the very core of our security interests and, in a way, the future of Israel, we cannot delegate the responsibility for making decisions even into the hands of our most trusted and trustworthy ally,” Barak told the newspaper. “It doesn’t mean that we would be sorry if the Iranians come to the conclusion on their own. The opposite is true. But, if no one acts, we will have to contemplate action.”