October 22, 2007, 2:18 PM (GMT+02:00)
This is the message prime minister Ehud Olmert is carrying urgently to French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday and British premier Gordon Brown Tuesday, according to DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources.
Last week, Olmert placed the Israeli intelligence warning of an Iranian nuclear breakthrough before Russian president Vladimir Putin, while Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak presented the updated intelligence on the advances Iran has made towards its goal of a nuclear weapon to American officials in Washington, including President Bush.
Olmert will be telling Sarkozy and Brown that the moment for diplomacy or even tough sanctions has passed. Iran can only be stopped now from going all the way to its goal by direct, military action .
Information of the Iranian breakthrough prompted the latest spate of hard-hitting US statements. Sunday, Oct. 21, US vice president Cheney said: "Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions.''
Friday, the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen said US forces are capable of operations against Iran's nuclear facilities or other targets. At his first news conference, he said: "I don't think we're stretched in that regard."
It is worth noting that whereas Olmert's visits are officially tagged as part of Israel's campaign for harsher sanctions against Iran, his trips are devoted to preaching to the converted, leaders who advocate tough measures including a military option; he has avoided government heads who need persuading, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Italian prime minister Romano Prodi.
The Israeli prime minister hurried over to Moscow last Thursday after he was briefed on the hard words exchanged between Putin and Iran's supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran Tuesday, Oct. 16.
According to DEBKAfile's sources, the Russian leader warned the ayatollah that the latest development in Iran's nuclear program prevented him from protecting Tehran from international penalties any longer; the clerical regime's options were now reduced, he said, to halting its clandestine nuclear activities or else facing tough sanctions, or even military action.
The Russian ruler's private tone of speech was in flat contrast to his public denial of knowledge of Iranian work on a nuclear weapon. It convinced Olmert to include Moscow in his European itinerary.
Our sources in Iran and Moscow report that Putin's dressing-down of Khamenei followed by his three-hour conversation with the Israeli prime minister acted as catalysts for Iranian hardliners's abrupt action in sweeping aside senior nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani Saturday, Oct. 20 and the Revolutionary Guards General Mahmoud Chaharbaghi's threat to fire 11,000 rockets and mortars at enemy targets the minute after Iran comes under attack.
Our military sources say Tehran could not manage to shoot off this number of projectiles on its own. Iran would have to co-opt allies and surrogates, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas and pro-Tehran militias in Iraq to the assault.
DEBKAfile's US military sources disclosed previously that if, as widely reported, Syria is in the process of building a small reactor capable of producing plutonium on the North Korean model, Iran must certainly have acquired one of these reactors before Syria, and would then be in a more advanced stage of plutonium production at a secret underground location.