"Israel doesn't need America on D-Day"

BB: Netanyahu and Barak wanted to attack during the last government, but they ran into opposition from you and the other security chiefs who thought it was too soon. But your thoughts have evolved over the past year. Why?

AY: I supported them on the notion that if we come to the fork in the road, where we have to choose between very tough alternatives—the “bomb” or the “bombing”—I’m with prime minister, for “the bombing”. But for a decision about an Israeli attack, you need positive answers to basically four questions. The first one is, ‘can you live with the bomb?’, and no doubt the Prime Minister will say no. And second: Can your operational capabilities achieve the goal of destroying most of the program? Third, have you exhausted all the other options? As long as there is a realistic chance to achieve the “no-bomb” by negotiations, by agreements, Israel doesn’t have legitimacy to do it. I think this is now the main obstacle because Rouhani has given some backwind to the idea that maybe the Iranians will reach an acceptable agreement. Number four, do you have sufficient understanding with the United States that this is a legitimate and necessary self-defense measure? America and Israel are allies. As I explained to you once, Israel doesn’t need America on D-Day. It can do it alone. It even can cope with the day after, but it does need the United States for the decade after.

BB: “The decade after.” What do you mean by that?

AY: I mean that even the most successful operation theoretically—theoretically—will stop the program for five years. If you want to make these five engineering theoretical years into a decade, until the regime changes, you need the U.S. on board, with the continuation of sanctions, with leading the international campaign against the renewal of the nuclear program in Iran, and maybe supporting [Israel] in doing it again. So that’s why I think 2012 was the wrong year to do it, because in 2012, it was a bright red light from Washington. I would like to emphasize, Israel is not asking for a green light. Israel only doesn’t want to do something that is going 180 degrees against American vital interests as long as it is not a response to a threat that is almost an existential threat. I think in late 2013 or early 2014, especially if America sees that Iran is not serious about reaching an acceptable agreement and only continues to buy time, the U.S. will accept an Israeli attack because a nuclear Iran is absolutely against American vital national security interests. And since many people believe that America, after becoming energy independent, is pivoting to Asia, it is even less likely that America will stop Israel from a self-defense measure.

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