Remarks by Zeev Schiff and Dr. Shai Feldman on the Iranian Threat

February 19, 2004

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies

ZEEV SCHIFF: Good afternoon. Amos is, I believe, the second serious man in the participation list in here today. And indeed, he was more cautious today, but I will reveal a little, one of his secrets. But first of all, Ephraim, I honestly read the book, I've swallowed it, from beginning to end. I didn't enjoy it, but I appreciated the material and the concept very much.


ZEEV SCHIFF: Let me remind you, first of all-

DR. SHAI FELDMAN: You should know that this is a very big compliment from Zeev-


ZEEV SCHIFF: -and I was rebuked at home for the - for the evenings I spent. Second, let me remind you, that Iran hasn't always been a threat to Israel. Once the situation was almost the opposite, meaning cooperation - I'd say strategic, or something that was on the verge of strategic cooperation with Israel. Ephraim relates in his book, in some section, that there was an agreement between Israel and Iran, for mutual building of surface to surface missiles, for a 600-kilometer range. Cooperation for mutual building of ground-ground missiles. We won't mention other things, in the territory of Kurdistan, of - excuse me, of Iran, Israel assisted the Kurds in their fight against the Iraqi army, and there even started the operation of bringing the Iraqi Mig 21 to Israel, the oil-pipe, and more than that, from Eilat to the Mediterranean. And when came the change of the Intelligence estimate of the threats after the upturning - revolution, excuse me - it really was a revolution. Therefore, after this change, that - in the government a very peculiar thing happened, and that's, I believe, what Amos didn't mention, and correct me if I'm wrong.

When the representative of the General Intelligence, who sits here behind the desk, presented the Iranian threat to the government of Israel, Israel's Prime Minister told him, and I believe it was unprecedented: 'I reject the General Intelligence's estimate'. Is that correct, Amos?

AMOS GILAD: No comment.


ZEEV SCHIFF: You understand what 'no comment' means - I reject the General Intelligence's estimate. He accepted the estimate of the Mossad, which spoke of the Iraqi threat. But - that means something, that means something. How - what happened with us, and how things started to change. And I'd like to return now - no comment on that either, Amos?

AMOS GILAD: On what?

ZEEV SCHIFF: On his accepting the Mossad's estimate about Iraq.

AMOS GILAD: No comment.


SPEAKER1: That's section 46 on the basic law -

ZEEV SCHIFF: Anyway, I'd like to return for a moment to a hypothetical question that may be only half hypothetical, considering the backgrounds I've mentioned earlier. Let's suppose for a moment, for the sake of the discussion here, today, this afternoon, that at the same time, before this argument in the government, the unprecedented argument, Israel would have received information that the Shah's Iran turned to develop nuclear weapons, and advances quite fast in this process. It doesn't share this with Israel, it walks on its own path, and advances. How would have Israel replied to such information? Would it have awakened the earth? Would it have gone and attacked Iran? Diplomatically, even. Would it have kept silent, and kept going? And I'm almost certain if I'd say that what would have decided was the fact that Iran is ruled by the Shah. Meaning, the deciding factor above all, is first of all, who is the finger holding the nuclear trigger. That means, that when there is a completely different regime, the Ayatollahs regime, which calls for the elimination of Israel, and not a different regime, that's - the picture is different. Obviously, there are additional factors that developed over the years, but we have to remember things could have been different. To the question Shai asked us, what is the answer? On this long day, things heard it on this long day, what is the Israeli answer to the Iranian challenge? I couldn't find a better way in this analysis than, Amos did it, started doing it, to deal with the issue of rules, of 'do's and don'ts'.

But first I'd like to answer a few key questions, that might assist us in setting these rules of 'do's and don'ts'. First of all, the first question: today, at this moment, has Iran crossed, as for today, a red line according to Israel, and what is the red line which has been crossed, if it has? The second question, is a nuclear threat from Iran is an existential threat to Israel? We can follow that question and ask, does Iran think that a nuclear Israel is an existential threat to Iran. They also ask this question. We see Iranians. Unlike the Arabs, they're more open, and you can get to the basics of their defensive scientific spectrum - not scientific, defensive political, and you can talk to them. Do they tell the truth? Not necessarily. And finally, what draws Iran back, what can draw Iran back.

So first, to the first question, has it crossed, as for today, a red line according to Israel. I'd say in general, the answer is affirmative. But we're not speaking yet of crossing a nuclear red line, and neither a declarative red line. They declare, they want to eliminate the Zionist state, they have a system of how to - how to eliminate it - you'll absorb all the refugees, and then we'll acknowledge you, etc. And the red line which was crossed in my opinion, and Yoram Schweitzer spoke of it, the red line the Iranians crossed in front of us, has to do first of all, at the moment, with terrorism. Directly or using Hezbollah, against Israel and its citizens. That implies for the future. And it succeeded in building, using Hezbollah, a layout of rockets which cover, from Lebanon, the Galilee area and further inside Israel, and despite this geographic distance, between itself and Israel, it managed to bridge with this move, of rockets threat using its proxy, Hezbollah, in association with the Syrian, it managed to bridge the land gap and created a land contact, while Israel hasn't managed to do so.

The Iranian threat is near us, not only using a terrorist coming to - to 'Lod' airport, or in another way, but through a direct rocket threat on the border. It's obvious Iran does not face such a threat. It doesn't think the exiles, those Asculai spoke of had brought the information in August 2002 - it's not these exiles. It's the CIA who let the exiles, who held a press conference in Washington, where nearly no press showed up.

And we happened to catch this conference, and then those exiles disappeared.

And the second question, is a future nuclear Iran with the current regime, and I emphasize, the current regime, an existential threat to Israel? Here I have am in full agreement with Amos, but maybe I'll say that with a bit of caution: I say - a nuclear Iran under the current regime, the current regime, might cause a chain of events which will be an existential danger to Israel, if the state of war between us and the Arab countries continues, and the Middle East will move to a state of a nuclear, multi-polar zone. Not only them and Israel, but they and others who follow them. I don't know how to deal - if we can deal with that issue easily, and especially a small country. And I, what tells us - we were told by Asculai, that although it was caught cheating, and forced to confess its violations, according to all the signs it keeps going. By the way, there is another method that wasn't mentioned, but we actually got to know during the last days - one of the things they now told the European representatives, now, recently. I can't give you names, they said: 'Yes, we cheated on the enrichment, but we have the right, according to the treaty, to go on enriching. You can't force us, you can at the most tell us - not this kind of enrichment. If we want to enrich, to keep this project, it doesn't contradict with the treaty. You can make sure, at the most, that we don't go to 90%, or 70%, as a military enrichment.'

This is the answer they're arguing over right now. And again, the Europeans say: 'No, you have to stop any kind of enrichment'. But there are already European groups, including inside the union, and among the countries who discovered, who say we already have to reward the Iranians. Right now, reward the Iranians, for admitting they stole. But in the end, the question remains: what deters them? Iran isn't isolated from the world, and we've seen that when the Europeans arrived there. But the interesting thing is, they weren't afraid of the Americans, in spite of their power, and the United States alone couldn't manage it, just like the United States doesn't manage the negotiations between us and Hezbollah, and we'll soon see that the negotiations concerning Ron Arad, whether he exists, and I - maybe, perhaps, I wish - the man is alive, or his remains. There will be a lobby directly with us. It will start with France and Switzerland. With those Iran can talk to, and the Iranians have already talked to Hezbollah, who were swept aside. Now we'll turn to the negotiations, and we, according to the done deal - whether it's good or bad, in my opinion it isn't good from many aspects - it will be held at the side, and they will pay a little, and we'll probably pay a lot.

But you can satisfy them. The Europeans showed that because of the Iranian economy, the economical relations, and the conclusion of Israel's behalf, the Israeli reply, is: 'We can't do anything on our own. We alone won't deter Israel. A deterrence of nuclear Iran, under this Ayatollahs regime, should be done only in a group of countries, and Israel among them'. Meaning, coalitions. And here I'd like to say a few things, to finish with the issue of 'do's and don'ts'. Amos said about that - and that's based on experience - First stop with all the extreme declarations of generals, of politicians, of Knesset Members, of people from the defense industry, and others who threaten over and over - and I'm still wondering when the Iranian Defense Minister says: 'You touch us, we'll get back at you.' Moreover, do you think that's where it ends? You buy a plane, so, not in the media, but you quote exactly how far the plane they bought would reach, and what is the best kind of preventive attack. And this, this truly, truly shows a kindergarten level in this system of relations management.

Second, in the area of 'don'ts'. There will be now many new suggestions. The Iranians have already brought up some - of regional or sub-regional disarmament, without including Iran. We mustn't accept such a move, since there is no meaning to sub-regional disarmaments, if the arrangement with Israel won't include Iran also. Definitely when Iran considers Israel as a country who has no right to exist. And in the area of 'do's': I believe the Israeli deterrence, as much as it doesn't stand on its own, the real, full deterrence is the Israeli, when it is a part of the American deterrence. Iran acts differently when it feels today, besides the European pressure, the American military presence. That means the going should be in coalitions, but not everything in the force of the arms, I'll give you an example of an interesting diplomatic coalition: For example, India, with whom Israel builds relations, in quite a fascinating, quite an interesting course, and in a different, parallel course, for understandable strategic reasons, on India's behalf, India builds new relations with Iran.

And so comes the question of a different coalition. Recently there are mentions of what's called 'NATO's Greater Middle East'. Does NATO have an inner, more eastern stand, towards the Middle East? Does such a coalition, who has its flaws, since they're looking for work, including in the Israeli Arab conflict, but they can also influence for the best, in the direction - the direction of Iran. And we mustn't ignore another thing, which I don't know if Asher Susser touched on today - of Syria's position in this formula. Syria, who was considered Iran's ally during the Iraq-Iran war, stands in the middle between us and Iran, and whoever thinks with strategic notions has to give that some thought, wouldn't peace with Syria create an important, strategic buffer-zone between Israel and Iran. And finally, especially based on what happened in Iran - in Iraq, sorry, during the last war, and with Pakistan's activity in the back, as a country proliferating energy - nuclear knowledge, to Muslim countries first of all, we must remember that one of the important 'do's' in this area, the Israeli reply, is to deepen the Intelligence's grasp, and Israel's penetration into further, deeper arenas. All of that - and with this I'd like to conclude - doesn't dismiss us from airing the notion 'How should Israel react if and when the question of what's called 'new world order' arrives at the issues of nuclear and mass destruction weapons?'

Is it enough that we keep saying that: 'Yes, world order is important, we need such order, but not for us'? And we'll always stay on the balcony, since we have good reasons to buy tickets to the balcony, and so we'll stay there as critics. I have a feeling that this issue hasn't been given enough thought until today, and Ephraim, for the conclusion, I found in an update you wrote for the Strategic Assessment, in November '98, you had a nice title. You wrote about Iran things under the title: 'The Iranian threat - cause for concern, not anic'. Thank you.


DR. SHAI FELDMAN: Did I mention I've known this audience for 27 years?


DR. SHAI FELDMAN: Fine, maybe we'll even be able to finish before five o'clock. A few remarks: first, a background remark. I'd like to start with - with Amos Gilad's ending. As usual we're blessed with agreements, and I was satisfied, first of all, that our general situation estimate, as it reflects, at least, from what Amos said today, is identical to our over-all position in the arena. I think you've heard a similar estimate from me over the last year at least. But in fact, I'd still like to mention also a bit of disagreement, at least in the past. Since we - I think most of our friends in the Center have reached this conclusion, meaning, that in the end, when taking most of the national power indexes, and comparing our condition to those surrounding us in the arena - three years ago we pointed out that in fact, on the general strategic level, Israel's position has never been as good as it is today, and I'm saying it - we said it then, three years ago.

I bring it up because then we got into some kind of argument. It was a friendly argument, at least if at the time we were also accused of spreading complacency among the Israeli public. I'm glad that since then these tendencies have only become faster, and obviously they have gotten faster also thanks to, I must admit, developments we didn't necessarily expect, such as the regional consequences of the last war in Iraq, but we analyzed them well right afterwards. The significance is that when talking today of the Iranian threat, and again I say, I totally agree with what Amos said, it definitely stays - after all, what's the situation? The situation is that we have peace with Egypt for 27 years, peace with Jordan for 9 years, and in all the indexes of GNP, or GNP per person, technological development, the military status, we're in a great position comparing to our surroundings.

The Iraqis, at least for the moment, as was mentioned, were erased from the charts. You can mark out the possibility of their having mass destruction weapons; in Libya there's a turn; in Iran there's some change we'll get to in a moment, and in Syria there's the distress both Amos and Zeev mentioned. And therefore we have to remember that when talking of the threat, as I said at the beginning, the remaining threat is the Iranian threat, we must remember that this relates to the fact that a large part - we remained 'threatless'. Nearly threatless. This situation is one in which we mainly have to deal with two sorts of threats. Again, both of them - Amos presented both of them. First, the Iranian strategic threat, and second, the increasing problem which is that the complete strategic superiority we've achieved, and which I've mentioned, this superiority doesn't allow us, at least a direct use, for the solution of the Palestinian challenge. Neither from the aspect as forcing our will to bring the other side to accepting the Israeli plan, or to put down its weapons, and it has no answer. It has no answer to the demographic challenge. This should be remembered as the background.

Everything else is 5 remarks:

First of all, I think it's clear, due to all the developments that were mentioned, especially in Ephraim Asculai's fascinating lecture on the nuclear issue, the conclusion of which to our issue is that Israel wouldn't be able to give up its strategic deterrence ability. I say, at the moment, neither in international weapons disarmament arrangements, nor in regional arrangements, as long as it's not completely clear that Iran abandoned its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and as long as it doesn't activate the control measures on itself, completely reliable control measures, with whom you can make it completely positive that it had actually abandoned these efforts.

But in this issue, of the need to deter - to keep deterring Iran, there is good news, which is that after all, Iran can be deterred. Amos told me about it that it can also be pressured. But it can most definitely be deterred, from the aspect that there is a regime standing in front of us, A- there's an address, and B- there is a regime here that's cost-sensitive, that's also the reason it can be pressured. Even in the times of the revolution's peak, even in the first years after the revolution, this is a regime that avoids adventures. This is not a regime that got its country to the kind of adventures Saddam Hussein got Iraq into. This is a regime that's sensible to its strategic surroundings, it can read its strategic surroundings, and all in all, it doesn't tend to misconception and misjudgments. And that's the basic requirement for successful deterrence. That's the first point.

The second point is that still, and this also evolves from Zeev's last remark or conclusion. That we have to understand the essence of the Iranian threat and challenge. Towards us. And we have a problem here, because there is a question here - What is the threat, against what I call, what at least from the Iranian point of view, seems as their reply to the Israeli threat. And it was brought up already - the announcements, and the labels, and the F-16i - you remember the interpretation that the 'i' in the F-16i, stands for 'Iran'. So our question is, to which extent the main problem we deal with is a direct, deliberate threat toIsrael, against the possibility that on the top, at least partially, we stand in front of Iranian moves, which are defensive in nature, that in part are no more than reactions to what they think of as a system of threats they are facing, among which the Israeli threat.

And Zeev mentioned that we, here and there, informally, in all sorts of places, are - we have ways to hear from them, how they see the strategic environment in which they live, and we are on the Iranian threat map.

The third question is how to affect Iran's decisions? Especially I'd say, how to affect Iran's decisions about continuing the nuclear project? And I say that under the assumption that Iran stands today at a crossroad, from which she might go on one of three possible ways: One, there is a possibility which, let's say, in some level it can mean seeing the suggestion and rejecting it totally, but it has to be brought to the table. There is a possibility that Iran decides to withdraw from the nuclear project, what the Americans call 'drawback'. What they call 'tasaluk'. But then, of course, it isn't likely that Iran will consider the threats map she faces, make such a decision, but I'll be back to that in a second, that's not out of the question.

The second option is that Iran will try and continue to do exactly what it has done in the last years, but that it has learned the last months' lesson, and it'll try and do it deeper, more hidden, more effective. Here we only have to mention two things: A, it won't be that easy. It'll be more difficult than in the past, especially from the moment Iran will ratify the Additional Protocol that's been mentioned. It wouldn't be impossible, even under the Additional Protocol, but it will be more difficult. And second, we'll have to remember that what Iran has managed to do in the last years is strongly related to this net woven by Pakistan that you've read about. Yet I have to say, and this might be a result of the fact that intelligence I have is limited, I don't know another, similar net. And you have to remember that with the revealing, and you can say, the burning, of that net, the burning and the revealing of that net narrows much of Iran's ability to create sources similar to those it had until now. That's the second option.

The third option is the one I'll refer to as 'the Japanese option'. The Japanese option allows Iran to develop an entire fuel circle, to have it entirely under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and in case - The significance is of course that Iran, like Japan, to say on day: 'I activate the special section of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty; I announce that my security and national interests obligate me, and I withdraw from the treaty. And the big question is, of course, how to affect the Iranian decision between these three options. The certain thing is, that if Iran chooses the third option, it will affect its timetable very much, and will very much extend the time, the period Amos has already mentioned.

The fourth point you have to remember, and we must think of it all the time, is what is the meaning of the fact that we're considered to be the designers, or at least great contributors, to the design of the American policy towards Iran. And I'd like to say here a very simple thing: In the United States there are very wide circles, not necessarily - not only - unfriendly towards Israel, who think Israel has a cardinal part in designing the American view towards Iran. In designing the threat conception, and also in creating, and I'd say, in their vision, in brackets, in turning down sometimes what can be considered as possibilities open in Iran, due to the distresses the regime suffers. And I say that, according to these circles, we design the American conception not only now, but throughout the entire eight years of the Clinton administration, and that we should always remember.

And there came, I'd say, the big question, and you've seen that unlike prior speakers, who put a lot of exclamation points, I mainly put question marks, considering the fact that we have some influence, but more than that, that we're considered to be very influential in the American reply creation towards the Iranians, the question I'm now asking, and it is the last question, what will be Israel's position, and it will be asked, in case Iran offers the United States and the Western countries a deal similar to the Libyan deal? Meaning, willingness to give up, actually, willingness to accept the first option of the three options, in the nuclear area, giving up the efforts to achieve nuclear ability, meaning - not the Japanese option, but giving up the efforts. Including totally withdrawing of the idea of creating fissile material in Iran, including guarantees in the chemical and biological missiles field, like Libya, which will include, also like in the Libyan case, willingness to a total withdrawal of the Iranian involvement in terrorism, including the issue of Hezbollah.

In return, in return the same reward Gadaffi got, and that Fidel Castro got on 1963 from President Kennedy, which is a promise, American guarantees, that they won't do anything to undermine the stability of the regime.

The American dilemma, if they'll have to face this question, won't be simple at all. Because we have to remember that this is an administration, which is not only committed to bring to an end of Iran's activity in the field of terrorism and nuclear, but it's an administration committed to bring to a change of government in Iran. Whose analysis is that the dangers in the nuclear and terrorist areas etc., stem from the nature of the regime. It is an administration that, in a very important speech by President Bush, a few months ago, and a new initiative the administration comes up with, called 'The Wide Middle East Initiative', and in the preparations the government does these days to the upcoming G8 summit, has made a commitment to the democratization process in the Middle East. Because Iran is not some kind of a reserve player. It isn't Libya.

This dilemma - and if the Iranians offer this deal before the Americans, meaning nuclear + terrorism in exchange for giving up the efforts to undermine the current regime, in favor of democratizing the regime in Iran, this administration will have a very difficult dilemma, and we'll be asked of our position on the issue.

I said I'd like to leave that with a question mark. I stop here, and I want to let the other two speakers to say a few words - two or three questions to the speakers.

SHMUEL GORDON: Hello, my name is Shmuel Gordon. First I would like to thank Ephraim for his book. I think that as from today, every course will use this book in its bibliography.

The first question is as follows, with relation to what Dr. Feldman was saying, is a nuclear situation in the Middle East better for Israel, sooner or later, or a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction and without nuclear weapons?

This is a question that must be answered only by Israel itself, and not judging only according to the situation between Iran and America.

The second question is - what is our role and what is our share of Iran changing from a potential enemy into an enemy that is of an immediate threat?

What is our part in Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Lebanese group, from changing a neutral population into those that lead the propaganda against Israel?

What is out part, and I shall speak for a moment as an orientalist, in the change of the Shiites, into becoming the number one enemy of the State of Israel?

The third question - in light of what I have already said, why in an international environment that has completely changed and turned a number of defense challenges on Israel into political and strategic threats, is the estimation of the national intelligence still carried out by an army unit?

Is it not time to transfer the responsibility for intelligence to a political body?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

DR. SHAI FELDMAN: One last question please.


SHMUEL GORDON: Yes please.

BARUCH TIROSH: My name is Baruch Tirosh, and I want to ask Major-General Gilad, I agree with every word he was saying.

The question is whether there is a way, as part of the list of what to do and not to do, is there a way and a chance to ease the tension between Iran and Israel, and perhaps even bring them to understand one another?

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

AMOS GILAD: In the 20th century we have witnessed many miracles, including several retired kings who came back, such as Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, so perhaps someone needs to tell the Iranian people - (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

AMOS GILAD: There are some ways to do things, and there is no absolute justice. There is an approach which is even more terrible with regard to the Palestinians, however it's a shame we will not have time to discuss it. We are like the Shiites in the sense that we always bit and blamed ourselves. This may be good, for it may add good solutions.

Why Shiites?

Well it has something to do with Lebanon. But that would take a longer lecture. However, once the Iranian regime is brought as an argument, and excuse me for simplifying it, for it seems that with relation to this matter the case is relatively simple, it is indeed a regime that simply hates us. And for strategic proposes, they aim to destroy us.

All that has already been described here with relation to Iraq and to Europe, and the issue of Afghanistan in front of the United States, and because it relates to the entire world, that is, the functioning of this regime and its chances of maintaining in office, and it's not like Bin Laden who goes only in a specific way, but this is a country, after all with a long and repeatable legacy, the bottom line is there is no flexibility as far as Israel is concerned.

I think that you are not even aware of the efforts to build a terrorist infrastructure, and the reason you are not aware of it is a unprecedented and remarkable success of the intelligence system along with IDF. That is, a co-operated intelligence system that stops the terrorists from operating in Israel. It managed to lower the amount of terror attacks, but the hate of Iran remains---.

I will provide examples to illustrate the situation. The Iranians tried to ship weapons to the occupied territories. They tried to bring all sorts of weapons like Katyushas and so on, but the operation was foiled, and now it has become vague history.

Two, thanks to the Iranians, Hezbollah has 11,000 rockets, or 10,600, but no one knows the exact amount. And just so you will understand, during the Grapes of Wrath operation, Hezbollah had 400 rockets. Now, those rockets can reach Haifa and even southern Israel. Three, there are a number of cases where Israeli Arabs were recruited, including amongst the Christian population.

Four, in every Palestinian city there is a group - and I am not talking right now about the other groups - that is financed and trained by the Iranians, and without their support, they cannot operate. One such case I remember right now is of the terror attack that took place last January, in Neve Sha'anan street.

Such a group killed 23 people, which is almost the number of people that were killed in one year in Lebanon. And they have a unique strategy of terrorist operations, not to mention the fact that we stopped terrorist attacks coming from Jordan, north of Jordan and also in the past, we stopped rockets being fired on Eilat.

There is a great effort that is enlivened by a great hatred and an ideological perception of seeing Israel as wrong. But there are other factors apart from the power that Israel has, of which, they believe, she is not worth. Now, I do not believe that dealing with this question of how much we have contributed to the situation has to be in our agenda.

The main question, I believe, is what is the extent of the threat, whether it is possible to minimize it, and whether we can reach a dialogue with Iran. The Iranians, their only flexibility towards Israel is that out of a certain fright, they are not anxious or eager to take responsibility for terror attacks.

If we call the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister and tell him that we have information that Iran is behind a terror attack, the answer will be that they do not have a clue. If you ask them about Ron Arad, they will say that they have never heard that name, only in the papers. Everything that you ask them directly, they do not have an answer. Lately they are for a peace process, that is, if the refugees are given the complete right of return to the State of Israel and Israel will disappear, they will be willing to have peace with us right now.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

AMOS GILAD: This is what Iran is all about. There are cases in history where a peace agreement was not achieved. Iran overall is a serious country and people, if I may use generalizations. I am deeply distressed because of them. Even when in the past they were not taken seriously, claiming that they have got neither rockets nor a nuclear weapon, I was still distressed by the combination of hatred, their perseverance, determined minds and their bad talent for us ---- (inaudible).

But it is not the army that must cope with the threat. As was already discussed here, there are other ways of dealing with it. Iran has many weak points. They have a bad economic situation and a bad social situation, corruption, and a lack of unity - there are many problems in Iran. I assume that you have already mentioned some, and if not, this is obviously not the time to deal with it.

Therefore, I do not believe in peace with Iran, and I recommend strongly not to put too much effort into the question of the extent of our involvement in the situation with Iran. I think that it is way off the truth. Just another comment to what was said here earlier. When transferring responsibility from one body to another, I think it is highly important to know to whom, so that it does not lead to a disaster. However, I am all for changes in every situation, that is, if they are needed. This is my answer.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

ZEEV SCHIFF: You asked five questions I believe, no? Two of them were directed to me, the Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which, as of yesterday deals also with legal matters. We respond to Lawyers. As far as I understand, with relation to the extent of secrecy that is not enforced, they will also deal with this matter of who is supposed to handle the National Intelligence, that is, in a better way.

I am not sure if they know who exactly draws the conclusions and makes the assumptions. But, they - this will be one of their concerns. Because in the end, they will deal not primarily with the past as they do in United States, and to a certain extent in England, but deal with the future. How to deal with this situation.

Separation is the toughest matter, let's take for instance the Palestinian issue. Can you make a regular separation between the organizations of the 'foiling' defense and the so called 'political arguments' of Arafat and his associates? Is it possible? Can you--- that deal solely with what today is called in the IDF half cynically the very little foiling.

I do not know what is more complicated then a technical decision. Hezbollah? Have we turned Hezbollah into an enemy? Hezbollah was born as a result of the very long stay of the IDF in Lebanon. The mistake in Lebanon was not the getting out without fighting, but the other mistake which is perhaps even more severe - why did you stay three years!?

Why had you convinced yourself that it was better to keep this cancer inside than to operate on it? And Hezbollah grew and grew. And in the end, it was the opinion of the public that took the IDF out of Lebanon. First of all the opinion of the civilians, and not exactly a full estimation of the situation by the defense forces.

And, lastly, is it possible to change the relationship with Iran? A few days ago, someone, although very famous, I will not mention his name, he specializes in Iranian culture, says to me that even we will one day visit Tehran.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

ZEEV SCHIFF: I do not know, I have already been to Tehran twice; I have been to the Caspian sea, and also the Persian Gulf and so on. But there are people who believe that it is truly possible. Not with this regime.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Comment inaudible)

ZEEV SCHIFF: Not with this regime. I think it is a very interesting country, that holds a very interesting public debate. By the way, also in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is so not true that everything there is held in same way and is viewed in the same manner. And it is possible to keep track of this dispute over the continual conflict between Israel and Palestine. Not everything is black there, there is also gray in the middle. I do not know how things will develop, but for the moment, the tendency is not good. Thus, we should wait and see the result of the elections that will take place in a few days. It does not reflect anything.


ZEEV SCHIFF: Right, but it will take time until the counting will finish. Anyhow, same readiness.

DR. SHAI FELDMAN: Okay, just one word in response to the questions and you will be dismissed. (Inaudible) It is clear that the dispute between - let's say 'the Western community' and Iran as far as the nuclear issue is concerned, is as its peak---.

This is from all the information that was given to us earlier. The position at the moment, assuming that the Iranians will focus on the question that was made clear here, which is, the Iranian delay of the manufacturing of the fissile material, and stopping it. And even better, having the Iranians leave completely their intention of developing a nuclear weapon.

I believe that in the end, if these efforts are fruitful, and if the Europeans continue to agree with the Americans, and not open a gap between themselves and the Americans, and the conditions that were crucial in the war on Iraq - the Iranians will understand that they must answer to the pressure. If this situation continues, and that is a big 'IF', there will be a feeling in Europe and also in the different institutions including the international organization for nuclear weapons, that there is progress here, I am convinced of one thing.

If those things indeed occur, a question will be directed to us and to our position. What are you willing to contribute after the problem with Iraq is solved?

And now, efforts are directed to the last problem, the remains in the region which is Iran. What are you, Israel, willing to contribute to proceed with the efforts to make this area free of nuclear weapons?

I leave you with this question and I thank you for listening, good evening and thank you very much.