Israel To Iran: Time’s Up

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called Monday for a naval blockade of Iran within two to six months, saying sanctions have failed to convince the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

“We’ll need more than talk and sanctions,” Steinitz told a meeting here of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. “It’s high time the West and the United States gave Iran a deadline to change its behavior. … We need a clear deadline for Iran to become open for inspection otherwise the ramifications should be like you did with Cuba in 1962. It kept the U.S. from going to war. It’s time for clear messages and deadlines.”

His comments come at a time when Iran has acknowledged that computers at its Bushehr nuclear power station were hit by a computer virus. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly vowed a military response.

An adviser to the Kuwaiti government on Iran, Sami Alfaraj, has raised the possibility that Iran might unleash a dirty bomb on the West. Such a device consists of a conventional explosive that is used to spray radioactive material over a wide area. It is designed to frighten and requires those exposed to be decontaminated; buildings and land in the blast zone would be unusable for long periods of time.

“I would not be surprised if this regime lashed out at its adversaries regionally and internationally by doing something as barbaric and irresponsible [as detonating a dirty bomb] — and it would do it in the coming year,” said Alfaraj, founder and president of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

In an interview with The Jewish Week here before news of the computer virus was reported, Alfaraj said: “The more the Iranian regime finds itself under a tight noose with sanctions,” the sooner it will act.

“I don’t think Iran will sit still and wait for its adversaries to take action against it,” he explained. “It has always taken the initiative except in the Iraq-Iran War when it was attacked in 1980 by [Saddam] Hussein. Since then it has sworn [not to let that happen again]. … Iran has enough material for a dirty bomb without creating a full-fledged nuclear device. And it could give it to its proxies [Hamas and Hezbollah] for use in any cities in the world.”

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