Emirates leader belittles Iranian nuclear threat

An Iranian ballistic missile is displayed at a recent military parade in Tehran. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—The prime minister of the United Arab Emirates declared Monday that even if Iran succeeded in building a nuclear weapon, it would not be able to use it against Israel.

“What can Iran do with a nuclear weapon?” UAEU Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum asked in an interview on CNN. “For example, will they hit Israel? How many Palestinians will die? And you think if Iran hits Israel, their cities will be safe? They will be gone the next day.”

Maktoum asserted that, in addition knowing that any attack on Israel would result in Iran’s own annihilation, Iran would refrain from such warfare out of Muslim solidarity use of a nuclear weapon, should it produce one.

“Iran is our neighbor,” Maktoum noted. “They are Muslim, and we lived next to each other for thousands and thousands of years. I don’t believe that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon.”

Maktoum’s remarks coincided with a new evaluation of the Iranian situation from the US. Reuters quoted a senior US official as saying Iran’s nuclear program is becoming increasingly worrying, despite every increasing sanctions by the US and other countries.

“Iran is violating international obligations and norms. It is becoming a pariah state,” Robert Einhorn, the US State Department senior adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, told a news conference in Seoul, the South Korean capital.

Meanwhile, Iran itself is raising the alert, feeding fears of a possible strike against its nuclear facilities. It is also deploying extra troops to guard them. This follows recent mysterious explosions that destroyed a missile factory and a uranium processing plant. Iran has accused the Mossad of carrying them out.

Western intelligence officials said that Iran was deploying artillery and guards to key defensive points, as well as preparing “long-range missiles” and “high explosives” fearing a potential attack, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Satellite photos “clearly showing billowing smoke and destruction” have proven that an explosion at the end of November severely damaged a uranium processing plant in the Iranian city of Ifsahan, according to the Times of London.

The report quoted Israeli intelligence officials as saying that there was “no doubt” that the blast damaged a uranium enrichment site, and asserted that it was “no accident.”

Officials from Isfahan have been denying that the city had been hit by an explosion.

On November 12, an explosion hit an Iranian military base near the town of Bid Kaneh, killing 17 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Maj.-Gen. Hassan Moghaddam, chief architect of the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program. Israel’s Mossad has been accused of orchestrating the blast.

The head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Research Directorate, Brig.-Gen. Itay Brun, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the blast at the missile base could delay Tehran’s development of long-range missiles.

“The explosion at the site to develop surface-to-surface missiles could stop or delay activities on that track and in that location, but we must emphasize that Iran has other development tracks in addition to that facility,” Brun said.

Iran’s development of ballistic, nuclear-tipped missiles suffered a major setback in the November 12 explosion, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Israeli and US intelligence officials told the Times that the blast completely destroyed the base. They said that surveillance photos showed that the Iranian base was a central testing center for advanced solid-fuel missiles, which are better equipped than older, liquid-fuel designs to carry warheads long distances.

“Anything that buys us time and delays the day when the Iranians might be able to mount a nuclear weapon on an accurate missile is a small victory,” one Western intelligence official told the Times. “At this point, we’ll take whatever we can get, however it happens.”