- - Thursday, January 19, 2012

JERUSALEM — Iran already has all the necessary elements to construct a nuclear weapon, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence says.

“If the Iranians decide tonight that they’re going to develop a nuclear weapon secretly, they have the means and the components to do so,” retired Gen. Amos Yadlin told Tel Aviv newspaper Maariv. “The timetable depends on the Iranians’ decision.”

Gen. Yadlin said that, in order to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran, a “military option must remain on the table.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said that Washington has a set of options to deal with Iran’s nuclear program if the current economic sanctions fail to dissuade the Islamic republic’s leadership.

Though military action is one of the options, Mr. Shapiro did not specify what the others are, saying that current sanctions are taking their toll and had not yet run their course.

He said the results of efforts to reduce Iran’s income from sales of its oil are “getting stronger every day” as nations announce a cutback on the purchase of Iranian petroleum.

Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor warned in a radio interview that, if the U.S.-led sanctions fail to produce results, it would undermine America’s role as a superpower.

If “Iran ends up becoming a nuclear power, it will tell us a lot about the United States’ international standing, particularly within the Arab world, where they are asking the U.S. to stop Tehran,” Mr. Meridor said.

Referring to coordination between Israel and the U.S. on the Iranian issue, Mr. Meridor said the two countries have a common goal, but “Israel is waging one campaign while the United States is waging a completely different one.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a visit to Holland, said that Iran already has made a decision to become a nuclear state, and called for international sanctions on Tehran to be intensified.

In an interview Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said a decision about attacking Iran is still “very far off.”

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