A nuclear Iran would threaten not only Israel, but the entire free, democratic world, Army Chief Dan Halutz told Army Radio Wednesday morning.
Addressing Tuesday's Iranian declaration regarding uranium enrichment, Halutz said: "The Iranians took a significant step with the declaration," but noted at this time it was only a declaration.
Still, the army chief warned that "assuming everything said is true, the Iranians took another stop en route to realizing their vision of nuclear independence, and this should preoccupy everyone."
However, Halutz also said that "if we look at Iran's map of targets, I'm not convinced Israel would appear at the top of the list."
'Iran on fast track to nuke bomb'
Security officials in Israel expressed great concern Tuesday over Iran's declarations it has succeeded in enriching uranium, and contrary to estimates in Washington, they believe President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements are more than a political move.
A senior intelligence officer told Ynet that "this is a significant day for the Iranian nuclear program. They still haven't crossed the technological barrier, but are definitely in a point that could lead them to obtain nuclear weapons by 2009."
However, the officer stressed this was no surprise. "This falls in line with our estimates. We believe that there is truth in the statements, and this is worrying, in particular because they are moving faster than the pace of the debate on the Iranian case in the international arena."
Up until now, the discussion on Iran's nuclear plan has revolved around the issue of "the point of no return," which refers to the stage in which the country would be able to enrich uranium without being dependent on other states. The IDF has recently changed its terminology on the matter, opting for the term "crossing the technological barrier." Army sources explain that the change in the wording stems from the conception that at any point in the process, the progress in the Iranian program can be reversed or stopped, either on Iran's own free will or by using military force.
According to the top official, Iran was moving fast in the direction of crossing this barrier. "There is no doubt that within a few months the reality will be different. The Iranians would already posses the required technological knowledge. The talks of a military move by the Americans, or any other superpower, will not materialize very soon. The Iranians are preparing for this option as well, and it is no coincidence they operate in several facilities spread across the country and located underground," he explained.
Israel is now mostly concerned over the slow pace in which the world I moving in dealing with Iran. "Talks of possible sanctions are scheduled for May, and actual steps will only be taken later, while Iran is advancing much faster in its nuclear plan," the officer concluded.