A senior IDF officer told cabinet last fall that the army does not have the ability to hit the Iranian nuclear program in a "meaningful way," a security official told Time magazine.
"I informed the cabinet we have no ability to hit the Iranian nuclear program in a meaningful way. If I get the order I will do it, but we don’t have the ability to hit in a meaningful way," the official quoted the senior officer as saying.
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The IDF officer said Israel can delay Iran's nuclear program by one year at the most.
The senior security official told Time that the working assumption behind Israel’s military preparations has been that, to be worth mounting, a strike must be likely to delay Tehran’s nuclear capabilities by at least two years.
But given the wide geographic dispersion of Iran’s atomic facilities – combined with the limits of Israel’s air armada – Israel can expect to push back the Iranian program only by a matter of months — a year at most, said the official, who attributed the estimate to the Atomic Energy Commission that Israel has charged with assessing the likely effect of a strike.
During a conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Israel must prepare for a possible confrontation.
"In my opinion, the strategy vis-à-vis Iran should be to do whatever is possible under the radar coupled with painful and crippling sanctions. However, we should also keep a viable military option on the table," he said.
The recent killing of Iranian professor Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was the latest in a series of hits on nuclear scientists who are linked to the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, which Israel and other Western nations are desperately trying to halt.
Ashkenazi said some of the sanctions imposed by the West on Tehran were having an effect, "but the problem now is that the nuclear program's clock it ticking faster than ever. Our immediate goal is to slow this clock down. There is another clock that is on the table, but it is not ticking at the moment."
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Thursday that the international community must encourage Iranians to topple President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime and bring an end to Iran's influence in the Middle East.
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