The Obama administration’s recent selections of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense and John Kerry as secretary of state are an indication that the US president will be hesitant to take military action against Iran’s nuclear program, former IDF military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Tuesday.
The two former senators, Hagel, who has yet to be confirmed, and Kerry, who was confirmed and became secretary of state on February 1, are “very cautious” about the use of force and will be reluctant to commit to further American military involvement in the region, Yadlin said.
“I was among the minority who argued that Obama could take military steps [to halt Iran's development of a nuclear weapon], but there is no doubt that both of these appointments weaken that position,” Yadlin said, adding, however, that the decision ultimately rests on the president’s shoulders alone. He was speaking to reporters in a briefing organized by the Israel Policy Forum, an American lobby group focusing on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said that the US would likely put forth a new diplomatic proposal “within the next few months” in a final attempt to induce Iran to stop the process of producing the highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear weapon, and repeated his assessment that Iran will have the capability to do so within half a year.
Last week, European diplomats said that Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it wants to install thousands of high-technology machines at its main enriching site at Natanz, in central Iran. The machines are estimated to be able to enrich up to five times faster than the existing equipment.