Sanctions alone are not sufficient to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program, former Israeli Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan said on Saturday morning, and he indicated that the Israel Air Force was capable of setting back the Iranian nuclear program if ordered to do so.
Advocating a carrot-and-stick approach, Nehushtan said the option of a military strike on Iran, which claims its nuclear program is peaceful but has refused to honor international resolutions aimed to prevent it attaining nuclear weapons capability, must remain on the table.
“Nobody’s happy about the idea of a military strike. It is carried out when the alternative is worse. There’s no knowing what’ll happen as a result of a military strike,” he said.
Nehushtan stressed Tehran must realize that Israel is prepared to use the military option “as a means to an end.”
He was adamant that Israel did retain the capability to realize a viable military option. “It is possible to delay the Iranian nuclear program by hitting its facilities,” he said. “I wouldn’t underestimate the capacity of the Israeli Air Force to fulfill the missions it is ordered to carry out. And I think I’ve said enough.”
Still, in the event that Iran did get to the bomb, Nehushtan said he believed not all would be lost.
“If we’ve reached a point where Iran has nuclear weapons and we’re too late, that doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever. We’re not there yet,” he said at a cultural event in Beersheba.
He also said Israel’s ties with Egypt were of utmost importance, adding that efforts must be made to preserve them despite the threat posed to Israel by terrorist cells and jihadist groups operating in the Sinai.
Earlier this year, Nehushtan warned that a concrete plan was needed on the Iranian front.
“There must be a credible military option against Iran, both as a deterrent and for practical purposes,” Nehushtan said at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv in March.