Iran undecided on going nuclear - Israel military chief
25-Apr-2012 (one comment)

The head of the Israeli military has said he does not think Iran will develop nuclear weapons.

Chief of Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz made the statement in an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

He said Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had not yet made the final decision whether to build a nuclear bomb.

Tehran says it wants nuclear technology for peaceful purposes but the West believes Iran is developing weapons.

In November the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report with new evidence showing Iran was secretly working towards obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Darius Kadivar

Military Chief at odds with PM Netanyahu ?

by Darius Kadivar on

Israel's position on Iran's nuclear programme is normally set out by Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak. Over the past six months both men have repeatedly spoken of the threat posed by Iran in immediate and occasionally apocalyptic terms.

Israel's serving military commanders don't speak in public as often as their political leaders. But the generals' occasional public comments consistently paint a more complex picture of Israel's views on Iran.

In his interview with Haaretz, Benny Gantz takes care to repeat a point made on previous occasions this year by a number of Israeli and US intelligence officials: Iran has not yet made the decision to make actual nuclear weapons.

The IDF Chief of Staff even goes one step further with the assessment that he does not think that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei will take this final step.

Lt Gen Gantz also makes an important characterisation with his belief that the Iranian leadership is composed of rational people. This contrasts with comments made by senior Israeli politicians - Vice Premier Silvan Shalom recently described Iran's leaders as "lunatics."