Israel’s Ambassador to the US said yesterday that Israel would be willing to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, even if doing so will only set their nuclear programme back a few years.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Michael Oren said that gaining even a little extra time would be worth a military operation against Tehran’s nuclear programme, which Israel maintains is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. “One, two, three, four years are a long time in the Middle East — look what’s happened in the last year,” Oren said referring to the Arab Spring and the on-going political upheaval in the region. “In our neighbourhood, those are the rules of the game.”
Oren added that military assessments in 1981 considered a strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility would only set Baghdad back by one or two years. Israel’s Air Force destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor on 7 June 1981, in an attack that was condemned around the world. But, Oren noted, “To this day, Iraq does not have a nuclear weapon.”
The ambassador described the Iranian threat as “unprecedented in Israel’s 64 year history and said Tehran had showed “no signs of flexibility in negotiations” with the US and other countries over its nuclear programme. “Diplomacy hasn’t succeeded. We’ve come to a very critical juncture where important decisions do have to be made,” he told Bloomberg.
Oren’s remarks were likely in response to comments made by US Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey the day before. Dempsey said that an Israeli strike on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities would only hinder Tehran’s nuclear drive but would not destroy the nuclear programme.
In related news, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated his threats against Israel yesterday when he said he was confident “the fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography,” Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported.