JERUSALEM, Israel – For nearly two decades, the main challenge facing Israeli leaders has been how to destroy Iran’s capability to build a nuclear bomb
In 1981, Israeli pilots destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor. Twenty-six years later, Israeli pilots destroyed a nuclear reactor in the Syrian desert.
Only one Israeli took part in both attacks, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin. He flew with seven other F-16 pilots to destroy Saddam Hussein’s reactor in 1981 and as chief of military intelligence in 2007, helped plan the attack inside Syria.
Yadlin said down with CBN News in an exclusive interview to explain how Iran’s nuclear program is a different threat to Israel than the ones he destroyed in Iraq and Syria.
“Unlike Saddam Hussein and Bashar al Assad, respectively surprised in ’81 and 2007, the Iranians are ready for a possibility that [an] attack will be launched against their nuclear facilities. So, they put them under the ground in bunkers, in tunnels, in mountains. They dispersed them. They have a redundancy of programs and they don’t want to reach the nuclear bomb as fast as possible. They want to reach the bomb as safe as possible, not to pay the price,” Yadlin explained.
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Yadlin expressed his concern about how the new US administration is engaging with Iran.
“After they [saw] the change of administration in the US, they lost their fear,” Yadlin said of Iran. “They are breaching all the agreements on what they are allowed to do in the nuclear field.”
Despite the change in US administrations, he explained five steps he believes Israel can take to stop Iran’s nuclear program:
1 Diplomacy – Make a better diplomatic agreement that blocks Iran’s paths to a nuclear bomb.
2 Sanctions – Pressure Iran with more sanctions or other ways to make Tehran pay a price for its nuclear program.
3 Sabotage – Lead covert, cyber and clandestine operations against Iran.
4 Military – Attack Iran’s nuclear program and its proxies in Iraq and Syria.
5 Regime Change – Support a change in Iranian leadership that is not hostile to Israel.
Yadlin said both Democrat and Republican presidents have declared their commitment to the State of Israel. Yadlin wants to put that into action.
“I think the wisdom we need here in Jerusalem is how to take this title: ‘We are committed to the security of Israel’ and make it an operational, contingency plan agreed by the two countries,” he explained. “I want to agree with the Americans, what should we do if the diplomatic channel will not be effective?”
Yadlin said the US and Israel look at Iran differently.
“Iran is not an existential threat to the US. Iran is – with nuclear weapons – an existential threat to Israel. So there is a different perception to the threat.”
Yadlin puts Iran about a year or a year and a half away from a nuclear bomb. He says Iran needs to both breakout to enrich weapons-grade uranium and to develop a nuclear warhead.