An Israeli strike against Iran to thwart its suspected efforts to build nuclear weapons, could be months, or possibly even weeks, away, Israel’s former military intelligence chief has warned.
But reserve Major-General Aharon Zeevi Farkash admitted to Israel’s Channel 2 Television he did not know for certain whether an attack would take place and said it should be the “last” option used.
He noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said earlier this week he has not yet taken a decision on the issue, but added: “From my reading of the overall situation, it seems it will be soon. It could take place within weeks or a two months.”
Although he said he did not think the time was right for an Israeli attack, he stressed he did not think the military option in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambition should be taken off the table.
“The Iranians have to understand that if they don’t give up their efforts to go nuclear, they will have to absorb a blow, especially to their military installations,” he said.
“This blow would be delivered by some sort of coalition – American, or also Israeli,” he added.
Farkash’s comments come a day after another former top Israeli official hinted at an impending Israeli military strike.
Ephrim Halevy, the ex-head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, told The New York Times: “If I were Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”
He told Israel Radio that Israeli threats of military action had a certain “credibility” and “seriousness.”
And on Wednesday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, in Israel reportedly to persuade his hosts to postpone a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities and to give economic sanctions and negotiations more time, nonetheless also intimated that military action against Iran could not be ruled out.
“We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period,” Panetta said while visiting Israel. “We will not allow them to develop a nuclear weapon, and we will exert all options in the effort to ensure that that does not happen. ”
Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, pointing to repeated statements by Iranian leaders that the Jewish state should be wiped off the map.
Iran rejects Western allegations it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon and insists that its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.