An Israeli ex-intelligence chief offered an ominous evaluation on the prospects of an Israeli military strike on Iran in the coming months.
Efraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad who left the agency a decade ago, was quoted by the New York Times on Thursday as saying that “If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”
Halevy echoed these sentiments in an interview with Israel Radio on Thursday, cautioning the Iranian regime against testing the resolve of the Jewish state: “[The Iranians’] math is off if they think they have open-ended immunity” to “continue to play their games” in the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the international community.
The comments come a day after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, among others.
After meeting privately with Panetta, Netanyahu said in a joint press conference that “Neither sanctions nor diplomacy have yet had any impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”
“America and Israel have also made clear that all options are on the table,” Netanyahu continued, turning to Panetta. “You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act. But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program.
“However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them,” Netanyahu added. “Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program.”
The Times report also stated that some American officials believe that Israel may attack Iran this year.
On Wednesday the White House responded to Netanyahu’s evaluation, with White House Spokesman Jay Carney saying that “We completely agree with the prime minister’s assessment that Iran has failed to make that choice and that is absolutely a disappointment.”
Still others in the Obama administration suggested that more time was needed to determine whether Iran would relent and allow for greater transparency regarding its controversial nuclear program.
“What we see today is not just a unified international community, but you see sharp divisions within the Iranian political system, far more so than we have seen in many years,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser said. “And I think that is a testament to the pressure that they’re under.”
JTA content was used in this report.