Yadlin is not arguing for an attack on
February 29, 2012 New York Times
Israel’s Last Chance to Strike Iran
By AMOS YADLIN
ON June 7, 1981, I was one of eight Israeli fighter pilots who bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. As we sat in the briefing room listening to the army chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, before starting our planes’ engines, I recalled a conversation a week earlier when he’d asked us to voice any concerns about our mission.
We told him about the risks we foresaw: running out of fuel, Iraqi retaliation, how a strike could harm our relationship with
Shortly after we destroyed Osirak, the Israeli defense attaché in
We had simply maximized fuel efficiency and used experienced pilots, trained specifically for this mission. We ejected our external fuel tanks en route to
Some experts oppose an attack because they claim that even a successful strike would, at best, delay
What matters more is the campaign after the attack. When we were briefed before the Osirak raid, we were told that a successful mission would delay the Iraqi nuclear program for only three to five years. But history told a different story.
After the Osirak attack and the destruction of the Syrian reactor in 2007, the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs were never fully resumed. This could be the outcome in
Others claim that an attack on the Iranian nuclear program would destabilize the region. But a nuclear Iran could lead to far worse: a regional nuclear arms race without a red phone to defuse an escalating crisis, Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, more confident Iranian surrogates like Hezbollah and the threat of nuclear materials’ being transferred to terrorist organizations.
President Obama has said
The problem, however, is one of time.
On Monday, Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of
Mr. Obama will therefore have to shift the Israeli defense establishment’s thinking from a focus on the “zone of immunity” to a “zone of trust.” What is needed is an ironclad American assurance that if Israel refrains from acting in its own window of opportunity — and all other options have failed to halt Tehran’s nuclear quest — Washington will act to prevent a nuclear Iran while it is still within its power to do so.
I hope Mr. Obama will make this clear. If he does not, Israeli leaders may well choose to act while they still can.
Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, is the director of
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: March 1, 2012
An earlier version of this essay misstated the date of