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Yadlin: Obama should be more explicit about strike

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration should make more credible the military threat to Iran, a former Israeli intelligence chief said.

"You should be very reliable and credible with the military option," Amos Yadlin said Saturday at a retreat of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an influential think tank.

Referring to Obama administration warnings against threatening war with Iran, he said, "The whole world is hearing that this is not a good option."

Yadlin was commenting on a panel featuring Colin Kahl and Jamie Fly, top former Iran policy officials in, respectively, the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

"I am very much afraid that all those who explain that it is too early to attack — and this is what we have been doing for the last six years — will very soon say it is too late," Yadlin said. "Those who are not willing to contain Iran today without a nuclear weapon, how could they contain it with a nuclear weapon?"

Yadlin’s appeal for emphasis on a possible strike differs to a degree from other former top Israeli intelligence officials who in recent months have said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is rushing to a confrontation with Iran, and that the Iranian regime is rational and susceptible to non-military pressure.

Kahl, the top Pentagon Iran official from 2009 to 2011, said that accelerating a military response could backfire and spur a nuclear weapons program.

"If you don’t like containment, the worst thing you could do is to rush into a war," he said. "Let’s not rush into something that could leave us worse off in the aftermath."

Yadlin, addressing a separate conference panel on Sunday, said his former colleagues should respect the democratic process and show caution about criticizing the elected leadership. 

"In a democratic country you should pay attention to who is elected by the people to lead the country and who was appointed," he said, referring to Netanyahu’s sharpest critics, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, who both served concurrently with Yadlin.

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