Last night, my wife and I and several members of our Joshua Fund team hosted a dinner party for Dr. Dore Gold and a small group of evangelical Christian and Catholic leaders and journalists at our home. A long-time friend and senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gold is the author of several New York Times best-selling books about the Middle East. His latest is a must-read expose of the apocalyptic ayatollahs entitled, The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies The West.
The evening’s chilling headline: Gold noted that a careful reading of the new IAEA report indicates that Iran now appears to have enough uranium to produce at least two nuclear bombs.
On page 2 of the report, the IAEA indicates that 669 kgs of low-grade uranium have been produced by Iran since November 18th, 2008. A footnote on that page further indicates that 839 kgs of similar LEU (low enriched uranium) had been produced by Iran prior to November 2008. That means Iran now has at least 1,508 kgs of low-grade uranium.
Gold noted that to produce 20 kgs of HEU (highly-enriched uranium, military-grade uranium) to build a nuclear bomb, one needs roughly 700 kgs of LEU that can then be reinserted into high-tech centrifuges and re-processed to roughly 95% purity. Thus, Iran now appears to have the essential materials to move steadily towards building two atomic bombs as soon as it makes the political decision to do so. It is not known whether Tehran has already made such a decision. Moreover, it is not publicly known whether Tehran possesses more enriched uranium than the IAEA is aware of and/or reporting.
Based simply on what we currently know, the situation is “very serious,” said Gold, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. from 1997 to 1999 and today is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Israel’s foremost national security think thank. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the Radical Islamic ayatollahs and mullahs in Tehran could create a “nuclear umbrella” for global Islamic terrorism, he said. Iran could blackmail regional enemies, and could ultimately use such weapons against Israel, the U.S. or other Western powers.
Gold noted that the Radical Shia Islamic eschatology of the current regime has to be taken into account. “[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad believes the end of the world can be accelerated by men.”
UPDATE, 9/1, 6:45pm — Outgoing IAEA chief ElBaradei calls Iranian threat ‘hyped’
Other highlights from last night’s discussion:
- Gold said he is deeply skeptical of the West’s efforts to engage Iran diplomatically, arguing that the evidence clearly indicates Tehran has used previous negotiations to buy time to aggressively advance the country’s nuclear program.
- He noted that Hassan Rowhani, who served as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, once bragged to hardliners in a closed-door speech in Tehran: “When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan.” The speech was reported in the New York Times in 2006. It is the opening anecdote Gold uses in his fascinating new book as he documents how Iranian leaders are engaged in a systematic campaign of “strategic deception” with the West to hide the enormity of its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
- Gold warned that time to stop Iran is fast running out. “What is Plan B with the West if diplomacy fails?” he asked. He fears leaders in Washington and Europe will say, “So what if Iran gets nuclear weapons? We can deter them like we deterred the Soviets.” But he said pointedly: “I think this [Iran getting the Bomb] would be a disaster for Israel, for the world.”
- Compounding his concerns: “Everyone in the West is complacent,” he said. The American media — even Fox News — couldn’t seem to care less about the steadily growing Iranian nuclear threat and are consumed with coverage of health care, domestic politics, the Kennedy funeral, Michael Jackson, and so on.
- Western leaders have given Iran until the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh September 24-25 to accept terms for intensive negotiations on the nuclear issue. If Iran accepts a negotiation track, Gold is concerned that they will do only to stall until their first few atomic weapons are completed. If Iran doesn’t accept, he is concerned the G20 might issue a new deadline. “A new deadline would be an utter disaster,” he said.
- Gold, who could be tapped in the future to serve in the Netanyahu government, declined to speculate on Israeli military options.
- He did say Israelis feel very much alone in the current conflict, and he expressed his deep personal gratitude to the evangelical Christian and pro-Israel Catholic community for their love and support of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
As the evening closed, I gave Amb. Gold, whom I have known since I worked for Netanyahu in 2000, an advance copy of the new Inside The Revolution documentary film on DVD. The film will be released nationwide on September 11th, and will be highlighted in the “National Town Hall Meeting on the Threat of Radical Islam and the Church’s Response” we are hosting on 9/11. An interview with Amb. Gold appears in the film, along with exclusive interviews with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other U.S. and Middle Eastern political, military and religious leaders. Nearly 500 churches are now signed up to show a high-resolution webcast of the 9/11 town hall meeting. It’s not too late to sign up. Please click here for more information.
A partial list of those joining us at the dinner party last night:
- Hon. Rick Santorum, fmr. U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania
- Hon. Steve Largent, fmr. U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma
- Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated radio host
- Craig Parshall, National Religious Broadcasters association
- John Miller, National Review
- Emily Belz, World magazine
- David Aikman, author and fmr. Time magazine correspondent
- Erick Stackleback, CBN
- Mark Rodgers, Ethics & Public Policy Center
- Joshua Fund staff and board members
* Tuesday, September 1st, is the last day to register for The Joshua Fund’s “Prayer & Vision Trip” to Israel November 5-17. To learn more details — including a toll-free number to ask questions — please click here.
* Friday, September 11th, is the “National Town Hall Meeting on Radical Islam and the Church’s Response.” To learn more — or to register your congregation to show a high-resolution webcast — please click here.