Ex-CIA Director cautions Israel against attacking Iran
September 5, 2012 4 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has warned that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely backlash and might actually push Tehran to build nuclear weapons earlier than currently projected. General Michael Hayden, the only person to lead both the CIA and the US National Security Agency, told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Monday that Iran is not yet close to building a nuclear weapon and that Israel should carefully consider how to respond to its neighbor’s alleged nuclear weapons ambitions. During his CIA tenure, General Hayden supervised the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate, produced cooperatively by all 16 agencies of the US intelligence community, which concluded that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons activities. In his interview on Monday, Hayden said that, in his view, the conclusion of the 2007 NIE “still holds”, as Tehran has not yet made the decision to weaponize its missile and fissile material. Hayden, who was recently appointed as national security adviser to Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, said that, by rushing to attack Iran now, Israeli military leaders would “actually push [Tehran] to do that which [an attack] is supposed to prevent: getting nuclear weapons”. The retired General added that any military attack on Iran would “pose a difficult challenge” in terms of its strategic outcome, since “there is no absolute certainty that all targets are known” inside Iran. Furthermore, he said, even if Israel decided to attack Iran militarily, it would have to go beyond mere air raids, and would soon discover that its resources were limited. Thus, argued Hayden, if an outright military operation against Iran “were eventually deemed necessary”, the decision should be taken collectively by both Washington and Tel Aviv —not least because “the US would be much more capable of undertaking it than Israel”. In a related development, US Representative Mike Rogers, who chairs the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday that he did not believe Israel would attack Iran before the US Presidential elections in November. Rogers, who visited Israel in an official capacity last week, said that he was left with “no doubt in my mind” that the US election cycle was part of Israel’s calculations.