Barak: Current Sanctions Not Enough to Stop Iran

Radiation Warning Symbol. Public Domain.

The sanctions imposed and diplomacy taken to date are not enough to discourage Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, Israel’s top defense official a defense college on Wednesday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak further noted that in dealing with the Iranian threat, all options remain on the table—for Israel and the United States.

Barak, according to excerpts of his speech released by his office, said that preventing Iran from acquiring nukes will be easier than dealing with it afterwards. Current and former officials around the world, including high-ranking US officials, have pointed to the dangers of both a nuclear Iran and a regional war intended to stop the Islamic Republic from acquiring the bomb. Barak spoke to that dichotomy, while apparently disagreeing with anything resembling a “containment” strategy.

Barak said, “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.”

However, Barak did note that the US and Israel agree on the Iranian threat, while hinting they do not agree on how much time is left before a military option is the only one left. “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.”

Apparently speaking more generally than just on Iran, Barak noted that “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.”

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Ryan Brown

Regardless, Barak does not believe the current steps will be enough to halt Iran’s drive. “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,” said Barak. “The Iranians are determined to continue deceiving the entire world, in order to achieve nuclear weapons.”

The Israeli Defense Minister pointed to the recent negotiations between Iran and the international community, which collapsed, as proof of Iran’s intentions. He said that “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.”

He predicted a nuclear Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, cement Iranian hegemony in the region and increase the likelihood terrorists will acquire nuclear weapons. While calling it a threat to the world, Barak highlighted the danger it poses Israel—and Israel’s need to respond in light of that concern.

“The Iranian nuclear program presents a challenge to Israel, a unique challenge, with the potential to develop into an existential threat,” said Barak. “We have no responsible way of ignoring this.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, July 26, 2012)