The incoming commander of the Israeli air force Wednesday said that if need be, Israel can successfully destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities “tomorrow.”
Major General Tomer Bar, who is slated to take the helm in April, said in an interview with Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that he is probably the officer who will need to command the strike against Iran’s nuclear program if the ongoing talks in Vienna between Tehran and world powers fail.
“I have to assume it will happen in my time, and my shoulders already understand the weight of the responsibility,” said the former fighter pilot, who currently commands the Force Design Directorate.
He said that despite reports on Israel’s lack of readiness or other factors hindering a possible strike on Iran, he is certain that it can complete the mission successfully. “There is no way that…I will return home without being able to say “I completed the mission”, he stressed.
“From the moment I sat here at the head of the Force Design Directorate, and the chief of staff spoke with me, the mission of the ‘third circle’ (Iran) was there… We are not starting from zero. We equipped ourselves with F-35s, we procured thousands of Iron Dome interceptors for multi-layer defense,” Bar added.
The third circle, whose primary focus is Iran, refers to the three levels of direct threats facing Israel, the first being small terror groups on Israeli borders, like Hamas; the second being larger threats, like the Syrian army and Hezbollah; and the third being countries that do not share a border with Israel, like Iran and Iraq.
Bar said he believes that as soon as Israel strikes Iran, the next war with Hezbollah will break out. “I have to assume that he [Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah] will automatically be all in. Thirty years he has waited for this order and there is no way that he will not be there and with the highest intensity. We have to be prepared for this”.
He noted that the next war with Lebanon will definitely involve a ground operation, but it will not be comparable to the previous wars. In 2006, Israel waged a ground and air war against Hezbollah with limited success, but critics said ground force level committed was limited.
“This is not raising the volume on the same radio. The familiarity with Hezbollah, the number of targets, the strength built over the years in matters of intelligence and attack capability, electronic warfare, cyber, make it something else entirely. I can stand by my word,” Bar said, adding that Hezbollah cannot imagine Israel’s power.
“Maybe they will try to bring in special forces or shoot at the home front, but we are no longer on this scale. We want a clear victory this time, in a shorter time and with fewer losses,” the commander said.
Earlier in the day, visiting US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed Iran and the ongoing nuclear talks, stressing the need for a joint strategy. Sullivan said he had been sent to Israel by President Joe Biden “because at a critical juncture for both our countries on a major set of security issues, it’s important that we sit together and develop a common strategy, a common outlook”.
A senior Iranian commander said on Monday that Israel does not have the ability to strike Iran’s nuclear or military bases without US approval, and repeated threats to attack Israel, as the Revolutionary Guard launched large-scale air and naval drills in the Persian Gulf.
“If Israel carries out attacks against Iran, our armed forces will immediately attack all centers, bases, routes, and spaces used to carry out the aggression,” Iranian commander Gholamali Rashid said.
Following weeks of reports of Israeli preparations for attacking Iran’s nuclear installations, the Tehran Times published an article — headlined “Just One Wrong Move”– with a map of purported missile targets in Israel on its front page.
Israel has long threatened military action against Iran, and recently reportedly allocated $1.5 billion for an attack if Iran gets dangerously close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.