Jerusalem, Aug. 12 – A senior Israeli official said new intelligence obtained by the United States, Israel and other Western countries shows that the Iranian development of a nuclear weapon is progressing far beyond the scope known to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Ha’aretz newspaper reported Sunday.
Iran has made significant progress in developing the components for assembling a nuclear warhead for its Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of 1,500 kilometers, allowing it to hit any part of Israel, the report said. Iran has blocked IAEA inspectors from key nuclear sites and refuses to cooperate with the international watchdog agency while rejecting multiple U.N. resolutions demanding it open its nuclear program to inspectors.
The IAEA previously concluded some Iranian nuclear development could only be for weapons, and Iranian leaders have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction, including a recent statement by Iranian Armed Forces commander Major General Hassan Firouzabadi who said his nation’s goal is “the full annihilation of Israel.”
“All of the (non-nuclear) threats that are aimed at the home front … are dwarfed by a threat different in its scope and character and therefore Iran must not have nuclear weapons,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu phoned U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the weekend to urge him not to attend a non-aligned nations conference organized by Iran later this month, saying despite Moon’s good intentions, he should not legitimize the Iranian government.
"Even if it is not your intention, your visit will grant legitimacy to a regime that is the greatest threat to world peace and security. Not only does it threaten countries throughout the Middle East, not only is it the greatest terrorism exporter in the world, but it is impossible to exaggerate the danger it presents to Israel," Netanyahu said.
"In spite of decisions by the UN Security Council, harsh sanctions and repeated proposals to reach a diplomatic solution, the Iranian regime ignores the international community, misleads inspectors and races to carry out its intention of equipping itself with nuclear weapons."