Iran is demanding that Britain, Germany and France support its efforts to obtain nuclear technology for both civilian and military purposes, alarming Western nations and bolstering American efforts to impose UN sanctions on Iran.
The Iranian demand was reported this week shortly after the London Sunday Times wrote that Israel had prepared and rehearsed a plan to destroy Iranian nuclear reactors, especially the one being built in Busheh.
Iran’s request, which came during talks in Paris this month with senior diplomats from the three countries, also included demands that Europe provide it with conventional weapons and a security guarantee against nuclear attack by Israel.
Iran has yet to receive an official response, although media reports said the demand left the Europeans aghast.
The Times story said Israel planned to strike Iran’s reactors by land and by air, an assertion scoffed at this week by David Menashri, one of Israel’s leading experts on Iran.
Menashri, chair of Iranian studies and a professor of Middle Eastern and African history at Tel Aviv University, told The Jewish Week during a visit here that such an attack is “beyond Israel’s capability.”
Menashri said it would be wrong to believe that because Israel successfully bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility in 1981, it could do the same against Iran’s nuclear facilities. He noted that the distance is much greater and that Iran learned from the Iraq strike, “diversified its activities” and is “better prepared” than Iraq was for such an Israeli action.
“This is not only the problem of Israel,” he said, “this is the problem of the entire world. … The world has enough tools to pressure Iran [not to develop nuclear weapons].”
But Menashri conceded that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has hurt the United States in dealing with Iran.
“It’s highly unlikely the U.S. will be able to mobilize another effort against Iran as long as there is no sign of weapons of mass destruction, especially during the pre-election,” he said.
“I’m not that concerned about the regime the Iranians have, I am concerned about its policies,” Menashri added. “It is the only country today that says Israel should be eliminated and destroyed. Its basic creed is the destruction of Israel. I don’t want to live in a region with a country like Iran having nuclear weapons.”