Covert actions have been brilliantly successful on a tactical level in delaying Iran’s nuclear program and sanctions are making life very difficult for the regime in Tehran – but the Islamic Republic is still getting closer and closer to acquiring a bomb, Iran expert and author Ronen Bergman told reporters at a press briefing Wednesday hosted by The Israel Project.
Outside disruptions to the program “have pushed the timeline repeatedly forward,” delaying Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon by three to five years, Bergman said. Such strikes also have done significant damage to the morale of those involved in Iran’s nuclear project, causing some of those involved to defect, he said.
The international community, however, needs to impose more serious sanctions on Iran, Bergman said. “On a tactical level, sanctions do work,” he said. “On a strategic level, they have not yet been anywhere near successful.”
There is strong evidence supporting Iran’s pursuit of a military nuclear program, not one designed for peaceful applications, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report. The study corroborates Israel’s assessment that Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon within a few years, Bergman said.
“There’s not certainty that [Iran] would satisfy itself with just being a ‘threshold’ country” – and will not stop until it has acquired a nuclear weapon, Bergman said. Iran provides training, funding and other support for terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, and the country’s leaders frequently condemn the West and Israel.
Additionally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he would share the country’s nuclear know-how with like-minded groups and countries and has emphasized that the Holocaust either didn’t occur or has been greatly exaggerated.
Bergman writes extensively on Middle Eastern security, military and intelligence affairs and is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in his field. He has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, The Times, Guardian, Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and GQ Magazine. Bergman is currently at work on his sixth book, provisionally titled The Mossad and the Art of Assassination.
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