The head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division informed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that Iran is only one year away from obtaining enough material for a nuclear weapon..
"By the end of the year, Iran may have enough fissile material for their first nuclear bomb," Brigadier-General Yossi Beiditz told the committee during the briefing. He added that Iran is developing its nuclear weaponry at a faster pace than before and that negotiations are unable to halt the process.
"Iran is extremely troubling due to its speed," he said. "It has missiles which can reach Israel. The Iranian clock precedes the international diplomacy clock." He added that for the time being, "The United States is determined to pursue diplomacy" with the Islamic Republic.
The information was not news to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who had already warned the same committee a week earlier that he was preparing for any possibility.
"Iran continues with its plans," he told the MKs. "Its possession of nuclear weapons could destablize the entire Middle East. There is dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, with the prospects for success doubtful. For us as well, [diplomacy] would be the preferred way to stop [Iran’s nuclear development] project. But as the chief of staff, I have to be prepared for any eventuality, and so this is what we are doing,"
While Western military and intelligence officials debated whether Iran has the capability to produce a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile, the Islamic Republic surprised the world last month by launching precisely such a weapon.
The Seji-2 missile, a two-stage missile, reached its intended target, according to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The 2,000-kilometer range missile is powered by solid fuel, and is reported to be a more advanced weapon than the country’s previous Shihab missile series.
Beiditz told the committee that Hamas is continuing to successfully smuggle arms into Gaza, adding that Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is expecting U.S. President Barack Obama to pressure Israel into making more security concessions.
He also warned that the Hizbullah terrorist group remains a threat to Israel’s north as well. "Hizbullah has deployed north and south of the Litani with missiles that can reach deep into Israel," he said.
Its deployment is a direct violation of United Nations Resolution 1701, the ceasefire agreement which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
The Litani River, located 12 miles from the Israel’s northern border, was to be a marker point below which Hizbullah terrorists were not allowed to re-group.
The U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were deployed in a buffer zone that was to be free of "any armed personnel" — both Hizbullah terrorists and IDF soldiers — between the river and the U.N.-drawn Blue Line in the southern sector of the country. The agreement also calls for "no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government."