"You need to know what issues to prioritize. In my opinion – it's the Iranian front," he told students at the Ashkelon College. His statements were made in response to a Yedioth Ahronoth article claiming that Netanyahu and Barak were seemingly pushing for action against Iran.
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According to Gilad, Netanyahu "was the first who heard of Iran's forecasted move on the nuclear missile path and he sees it as a massive threat. The defense minister understands the depth of the threat as well."
Iranian missile test (Photo: EPA)
According to a Nahum Barnea article in Yedioth Ahronoth, published on Friday, the heads of the armed forces – Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo, Military Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen share the opinion of their predecessors and are opposed to taking action against Iran at this time.
Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan had previously stated that a strike against Iran was "a foolish idea" and warned against the disastrous consequences that would follow such action – an all out regional war.
Gilad believes that "Israel's main threat is Iran" and warned against complacency: "We have experience with Israel arrogance when it comes to foreign statements. Khamenei said that there was no room for Israel; He said Iran needs to be treated like an empire equal in power to superpowers like the US. That motivation drives Iran to develop ballistic capabilities."
Gilad noted that while in 1999-2000 Iran did not have even one missile that could reach Israel, today Tehran has hundreds of missiles capable of crossing a 1,500 kilometer radius within 10 minutes, as well as missile that can carry nuclear warheads.
"At the moment, there is no immediate nuclear threat, but there is definitely a great deal of motivation and determination for it," he stressed. Until now, he noted, the Iranians were enriching uranium. "Today the status is that they are at the starting point – they have uranium, they have the knowledge but they don't create (missiles) because of media publicity which is not initiated by them."
'Major game changer'
According to Gilad, the attempt to develop secret nuclear sites within Iran failed because the locations were published.
The Shihab missile on show (Photo: AFP)
The good news, said Gilad, was that "the whole world is against the Iranians, the sanctions are effective, but it doesn't change Iran's strategic direction or their motivation. Iran is determined to obtain nuclear weapons and that is a major threat to Israel. If they achieve their goal it would be major game changer".
Asked about the timeframe of the Iranian threat, Gilad answered: "The balance of power changed the moment the Iranians decide to pursue it." As for the question of whether Israel should attack Iran, Gilad noted that "all options remained open."
Gilad then spoke about the Arab Spring and stressed the strategic importance of the peace treaty with Egypt. "It has a huge significance security wise," he said, adding: "This is the first time where there is a situation in which elections are being held in Egypt in 30 days and we don't know who will rise to power and how it will affect our relations with them."
The policy and political-military affairs director made it clear that the Arab Spring poses many threats to Israel. "The question is what will happen on the day after, in Egypt the results of the first elections are still unclear.
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