TEL AVIV – Iran can break out to nuclear weapons very quickly, and Israel must maintain operational readiness for any threat that may arise, said Amos Gilad, director of political-military affairs at the Defence Ministry of Israel.
Speaking at a security conference organised by the Israel Defence publication and the Israel Artillery Association, Gilad said the security forecast was not sunny. “Today is a pleasant day. But there are clouds, and a storm, on the horizon,” he said. “People don't believe it until it comes,” he added.
He said that Iran's nuclear weapons programme remains the top threat to Israeli security, as the Islamic Republic threatens to exterminate Israel. He referred to a past statement by former Iranian president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who said that one atomic bomb would be enough to destroy Israel.
Iran's strategy is based on the twin goals of getting rid of choking international sanctions, and keeping the option of breaking out to nuclear weapons within a few months, he said. “President Barack Obama keeps saying, and I think he means it, we won't tolerate Iran with nuclear weapons,” he said.
Gilad noted that Iran has overseen the construction of Hezbollah's arsenal of 100,000 rockets, and spent billions of dollars to build up Hezbollah's firepower, which threatens all of Israel's territory. “This is a military threat, not a terrorist one,” he said, adding, Israel has not been successful in preventing a buildup (of rockets) in Lebanon.
Israel must maintain operational readiness, and praised the country's defence industries for building up a shield against ballistic missile threats, and paid tribute to ‘unbelievable’ intelligence achievements. In Syria, Gilad said that two terror groups without limits were operating over the northern border, and include 1500 European or foreign passport holders fighting.