In his remarks on Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated that while there are many risks and dangers associated with a military assault against Iran, they are all outweighed by the threat that would result in permitting Iran to achieve nuclear independence.
The defense minister’s remarks made in an address to the National Security College, including his vision on a number of key areas follow:
“In the middle of 2012, Israel finds itself dealing with some of the most complex and complicated challenges that have ever faced our political and military leadership. We may have to make difficult, crucial decisions concerning Israel’s national security… For two years now we have been surrounded by a turbulent and noisy region, with the security challenges mounting on a daily basis. The Arab Spring, that has slowly become an Islamic Summer, teaches us that in the moment of truth, we can only rely on ourselves. The defense establishment will meet this challenge with greater attention, and we will remain ready and vigilant, preparing for any changing circumstances and groundbreaking turning points – should they arise.”
On the terror attack in Bulgaria:
“The terrorist attack that was carried out a few days ago in Burgas by Hizbullah – inspired, and perhaps also authorized, by the Iranians – proves that the terror network’s operational branch [continues] to target Israeli citizens. Tonight, I want to reiterate once again that we will get our hands on these murderers, as well as those who sent them.”
“We are following what is being done in Syria very closely. We have said this and we mean it: The State of Israel will not accept the transfer of advanced weapons systems from Syria to Hizbullah. In Syria, the massacres and the murder of the Syrian people – by the government forces and the irregulars of the government – take place before the eyes of the world…
Bashar al-Assad and his regime have lost all legitimacy. We will see that every day that passes accelerates the downfall of his regime. The difficulty of the international community to formulate a response to the bloodshed and the deaths of innocents serves as a lesson for us. It illustrates the limitations of the ability of the international community to mobilize political will, unity of purpose, or ability to function – even when the situation demands it.”
“Turkey alongside Israel is a key strategic factor in achieving a stable or appropriate regional equilibrium, and hence the importance of bringing relations with Turkey back to normal. Israel has no interest in the continued friction between the two countries.”
“Above all the challenges I have mentioned, sits the challenge of Iran. A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world order. It will lead to a nuclear arms race in the region; countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the new Egypt will not be able to fall behind. It will also start a stopwatch for the leakage of nuclear knowledge or technology, [with it eventually] finding its way into the hands of terror elements. With nuclear power, if it is achieved, Iranian hegemony will become a reality, leading to the intimidation of its neighbors, deepening Iran’s involvement in both regional and global terror. I am well aware of the difficulties involved in thwarting Iran’s attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon. However, it is clear to me that without a doubt, dealing with the threat itself will be far more complicated, far more dangerous and far more costly in terms of both resources and human life.
This is the time for the entire world to unite – unity of action, unity of purpose, and [to gather] the political will in order to stop – quickly and purposefully – the Iranian nuclear program. The sanctions today are more stringent than in the past. The diplomacy is active. And despite this, we think that this will not be enough, and that these actions will not produce the [desired] end-game of stopping the Iranian nuclear program. The Iranians are determined to continue deceiving the entire world, in order to achieve nuclear weapons. Whoever wants proof, just needs to look at the talks over the last few months; including the most recent talks in Moscow. The Iranian nuclear program presents a challenge to Israel, a unique challenge, with the potential to develop into an existential threat. We have no responsible way of ignoring this.
On relations with the US:
“We are in a continuous, intimate and open dialogue with the US administration – even if we don’t always totally agree. The security ties between us and the current administration are at the highest level they have ever been. The administration is consistently strengthening the depths of Israel’s security abilities. The decision to expand the Iron Dome system with US financial backing is yet another expression of this deep connection and commitment.
I believe with all my heart that there are no contradictions… One can combine the political and security responsibility and complete sovereignty of our own decisions, while maintaining the special relationship with the US; our most important ally. However, there are some differences between America and Israel; the source of those differences being the different paces of our ticking clocks, the differences in capabilities, as well as other power discrepancies and differences of compulsion. This [reality] dictates that each [country] has its own particular conclusions and points of view… sometimes they are different. However, the most important thing here is the fact that at the end of the day, America understands that the Government of Israel – and it alone – holds the ultimate responsibility of the decisions that affect the security and future of the State of Israel. And that Israel and America share the stance that we must prevent a nuclear Iran with determination, and that there is a need to keep all options on the table. Having said all of this, and despite the fact that these are complex challenges – I trust the strength of Israel and its military, national, economic and human resilience. I trust in our ability to cope with all of the challenges with responsibility, seriousness, sober judgment and decisiveness.”
On the Tal Law:
“National security is made up of different elements. Not just the strength of the IDF, but also the economy and society. Ahead of us, in this field, are the required changes to the Tal Law. We attribute paramount importance to this subject and are working – within the defense establishment – in accordance with the needs and requirements of the IDF in order to formulate rules that will bring both profound and fundamental changes. These changes will be based on broadening and deepening the sharing of ‘the burden’; appropriate compensation for those who serve; and the growing integration of the ultra-orthodox into the workforce. And all of this, wherever possible, [will be achieved] through dialogue and understanding. Because we are people… we are brothers.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)