The UK Daily Telegraph reported today that Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, said that ‘an immediate crisis was avoided in the summer when Iran quietly chose to use over a third of its medium-enriched uranium for civilian purposes, delaying the moment when it could have built a nuclear bomb’. Barak went on to say that ‘without this decision, the situation would “probably” have peaked before the US presidential election’.
Iran has said all along that the product from its medium level enrichment program has been for civilian use. (Iran’s 20% enriched uranium is used to produce isotopes for cancer treatment and other medical use.) Iran hasn’t ‘delayed the moment it could have built a nuclear bomb’ as Barak says because, apart from anything else, in order to build a bomb, uranium needs to be enriched to more than 90%; a capacity that Iran simply doesn’t have.
The use of the words ‘could have’ by Barak exposes Israel’s childish obsession to confront Iran. In reality, Barak’s remarks were made simply to cover for the lack of military action against Iran this side of the presidential election. Despite the fact that Barak insists that Israel reserves the right to strike Iran unilaterally, he knows that such a strike without US support would be utterly impossible. Since it became clear that Obama was not going to provide such support prior to the elections, Barak is simply attempting to save Israeli ‘face’ over the lack of Israeli action by saying they didn’t need to strike Iran afterall because Iran had used the uranium for civilian purposes.