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Yadlin: Israel now has five years to ensure we can stop Iran

Deal is flawed, says ex-IDF intel chief, but initially it improves Israel’s security situation because Tehran’s program will be reduced and subject to more inspection

Amos Yadlin speaks to Channel 10, July 24, 2015 (Channel 10 screenshot)
Amos Yadlin speaks to Channel 10, July 24, 2015 (Channel 10 screenshot)

The Israeli military must utilize the next five years, as the nuclear deal with Iran is implemented, to ensure Israel has the capacity to stop any subsequent Iranian attempt to break out to the bomb, Israel’s former head of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, urged Friday. And Israel’s political leadership should act now to reach an agreement with the United States on the fullest possible security cooperation — to detect Iranian violations of the deal, to agree on how to act against Iran if necessary, and to ensure Israel maintains its military advantage over Iran and other regional threats.

Yadlin, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, was critical of aspects of the deal — including the massive imminent flow of funds to the regime as sanctions are lifted, and its ability to build an unlimited nuclear program as key clauses expire. But Yadlin, whose Zionist Union party leader Isaac Herzog has backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to persuade Congress to reject it — seemed to acknowledge that efforts by Israel to thwart the accord will fail.

The urgent imperative now, Yadlin said, was for Israel to reach “an agreement with the United States” that would ensure full intelligence cooperation to spot any Iranian breach of the accord, and that would coordinate positions on how the US and Israel would act in the event of significant breaches. This accord would also need to include elements “to bolster Israel’s security,” he said.

US officials have indicated a willingness to provide additional military assistance to Israel to help secure the country against new challenges, but Netanyahu has refused to discuss such aid — asking why Israel would need more assistance if, as the Obama administration claims, the Iran deal makes Israel safer.

For all the problems of the accord, said Yadlin, Israel’s “security situation will improve” for the next five years, because the Iranian nuclear program will be “reduced” and subjected to greater inspection than is currently the case. Therefore, said Yadlin, the Israeli military should use these five years to ensure it was ready to deal with any subsequent developments. (Yadlin’s military career included years as a combat pilot, during which he was one of the participants in the Israeli Air Force strike on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osiraq in 1981.)

“If we have a good army, we can prepare what we need and should prepare,” Yadlin said, a little obliquely, evidently referring to the future possible imperative to intervene militarily against Iran.

Israeli leaders have not ruled out military intervention against Iran, with Netanyahu restating Israel’s determination to ensure that Iran not get the bomb.

In an interview earlier Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Israeli military intervention would be “an enormous mistake, a huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don’t think it’s necessary.” He added: “Iran would then have a reason to say, ‘Well, this is why we need the bomb.’”

Efraim Halevy speaks to Channel 2, July 24, 2015 (Channel 10 screenshot)
Efraim Halevy speaks to Channel 2, July 24, 2015 (Channel 10 screenshot)

Efraim Halevy, a former Israeli Mossad chief, said in a Channel 2 interview Friday evening that the secretary was evidently trying “to cool” any renewed Israeli inclination to consider a military strike.

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