Head of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi reiterates army estimates that Iran could further enrich that uranium it already has to create 4 atomic bombs.
About 200,000 missiles are aimed at Israel at any given time, a top Israel Defense Forces officer said on Thursday, adding that Iran’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons was solely dependent on the will of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The remarks by Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi came after IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that the threats facing Israel have increased and intensified in recent years due to regional instability.
Speaking to the Herzliya Conference, Gantz said that Iran’s nuclear program is a “global problem and a regional problem,” adding that Tehran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons must continue to be disrupted.
On Thursday, Kochavi, speaking at the opening session of the Herzliya Conference’s closing day, spoke of the growing threats Israel was facing: “a more hostile, more Islamic, more sensitive Middle East, one more attune to public sentiment, less controlled by the regimes, and less susceptible to international influence.”
The chief of military intelligence then indicated that about 200,000 missiles were aimed at Israel at any given time, adding, however, that “Israel’s military deterrence is intact.”
Referring to Israel’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Kochavi presented a relatively tame estimation of a possible timeline en route to an Iranian atomic bomb, saying that the project depended more on the will of Iran’s Supreme Leader than on any technological advancement.
“If Khamenei issues a command to achieve a first nuclear explosive device, we estimate it would take another year before that’s achieved,” the top IDF official said, adding that “if he asks to translate that ability to obtain a nuclear warhead, that would take another year or two.”
Kochavi also reiterated the IDF estimate that Iran is in possession of more than 4 tons of low-grade enriched uranium as well as almost 100 kilograms of uranium enriched at 20%.
“If those are enriched more, to a 90% level, that would be enough for 4 atomic bombs,” the IDF officer said.
The military intelligence chief added that the sanctions on Iran “are taking their toll. There’s 16% unemployment, 24% annual inflation, and practically no growth,” he said adding that “at this point the pressure isn’t leading Iran to a strategic shift.”
However, Kochavi added that “there’s a potential, with greater pressure, that the regime, interested first and foremost in its own survival, would reconsider its position.”
Speaking at the Herzliya conference on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres also referred to the Iranian nuclear threat, saying that Tehran’s “evil” leaders cannot be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.
“It is the duty of the international community to prevent evil and nuclear [weapons] from coming together. That is the obligations of most of the leaders of the free world, one which they must meet,” Peres said.