JERUSALEM (JTA) — Another former Israeli spymaster, Amos Yadlin, urged caution in tackling Iran’s nuclear program.
Yadlin, who has largely avoided public engagements since stepping down as chief of Israel’s military intelligence last year, convened reporters this week upon being appointed director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
"Iran today has enough [fissile[ material to produce four or five bombs, and the moment it wishes, it will be able, within 1 to 1 1/2 years, to have a nuclear bomb," Yadlin said in remarks that received broad media play Wednesday.
But Yadlin, who was among the eight Israeli fighter pilots who bombed Iraq’s atomic reactor in 1981, was circumspect on whether Israel should take such action against Iran, whose facilities are more numerous, distant and well-defended.
Noting that the Iranians are unlikely to be surprised by any Israel strike, Yadlin counseled "opening channels of dialogue with those who have superior operational abilities than we do" — an apparent allusion to the United States.
Yadlin said that should Iran come under attack, it most likely woiuld retaliate directly against Israel and indirectly using Hezbollah and Hamas, its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza.
"However, there are international mechanisms that will curtail the war between Iran and Israel," he said.
Asked about media reports indicating the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were hatching an attack on Iran over the objections of their security chiefs, Yadlin called for such decisions to be made "in the appropriate forums — not in a forum of two people but in a broader forum."
Yadlin’s counterpart in Mossad, Meir Dagan, has frequently hinted since his own retirement a year ago that the Netanyahu government is liable to make rash decisions on Iran.