The United States will launch a military strike against Iran if that is the last remaining option for stopping its allegedly military nuclear program, a former Israeli intelligence official said on Monday, countering concerns to the contrary voiced by MK Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking to journalists at the Jerusalem Press Club, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, a former military intelligence chief who currently heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said the gap between Israel and the US revolved around the timing of a possible strike, not the imperative to launch one if all else failed.
“I still believe that if President [Barack] Obama has to choose between Iran becoming nuclear and a military attack — he will choose a military attack,” Yadlin said, assessing that Iran would need three to four months to produce a nuclear weapon if it chose to begin doing so now.
“If this will be their last option, it [the threat to strike] will be credible,” he added. “But the Americans are willing to check all the other options first. The Americans think they are strong enough that they don’t have to speak about the military option all the time. Of course they prefer a diplomatic solution, just as we do.”
Yadlin’s comments came in contrast to comments by Hanegbi (Likud), who told The Times of Israel of concerns that the Obama administration, including the president, was merely paying “lip service” to the military option on Iran.
Yadlin added that although he understood the American reluctance to get involved in the Middle East following two costly and ineffective wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he viewed the administration’s fear of another war in Iran “with some concern.”
“My argument when I speak to my American friends is, ‘Don’t go to war! Go for a one-night operation. You can do it,’” he said.
A former IAF pilot and a self-described “admirer of air power,” Yadlin noted that a precision airstrike could spare the Americans the need to put boots on the ground.
“You can stop an air campaign any minute and the Americans have done so in the past,” Yadlin said. “They did it in Kosovo in 1999, they did it in Libya. If the Americans go for a military option it should be surgical, it should be short, and it should send a message. It can be one night or three nights and then stop. The Iranians will understand the message.”