Time is on Iran’s side as it continues to make progress on its nuclear program,
former Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ido Nehushtan told diplomats
at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Herzliya on
Asking the audience to imagine the implications of a
nuclear-armed Iran, Nehushtan cited the 1962 Cuban missile crisis between the US
and the Soviet Union, which he said was cleverly managed and peacefully resolved
by two responsible leaders.
“Can you manage a crisis like this vis-a-vis
a radical Islamic regime?” he asked, noting that a nuclear Iran would create a
multi-nuclear Middle East.
“This is a hot area, not built for cold wars,”
he explained. “It’s not an Israeli problem, but a regional and a world
Nehushtan described Iran’s global arms and terrorism network as
“an octopus,” citing Iranian Fajr rockets in Gaza, Iran’s presence in Syria, and
subversive activities in Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and
“Time is working only for one side... the Iranian side, by
definition,” he warned, speaking of Tehran’s nuclear program.
goes by it becomes less and less possible to stop this problem,” he said. “The
Iranians are masters of negotiations. They invented the game of chess.
They know how to do the business. Time is working on their
Nehushtan said a “global toolbox” is in place to prevent a nuclear
Iran, adding that “sanctions are having an impact, but so far they have not
achieved their goal [of stopping the nuclear program]. This toolbox has
to be filled with all the options, all the time, in a credible
Nehushtan described Syria as being in possession of the largest
chemical arms arsenal in the Middle East, if not the world.
running the business there?” he asked. “The global jihad is there. Iran and
Hezbollah are heavily invested. The danger of chemical weapons... is that
it could fall into the wrong hands. This is a nightmare not only for Israel and
other neighbors [of Syria], but for the entire world – the combination of
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.”
Earlier, the former air force
commander turned his attention to the turmoil rocking the Middle East,
describing the period as historic and filled with threats.
Sykes-Picot order is gone,” he said, referring to the 1916 British-French
imperial division of the Middle East that gave rise to the regional map of
states. “A new order has yet to take shape. We’re in a very fundamental process
Nehushtan said that the major winner so far was political
“What started as an earthquake coming from youngsters became a big
winner of political Islam,” he said.
He noted the Islamist forces were
rising to power in Egypt, Tunisia and Gaza with the slogan that “Islam is the
Now the Islamists have to “deliver some solutions to the
Nehushtan also highlighted the penetration of global jihadi
forces into destabilized areas, especially Syria, and the increasing
proliferation of weapons from Libya, Iran and other countries.
the region is “less stable, more inflammable, and more religious,” he said.
“Solutions are very difficult to come by.”
Referring to last month’s IDF
operation to stem rocket attacks from Gaza, Nehushtan said the conflict should
be seen as “part of a larger context to define something that is unique to the
world: rocket terrorism.”
He said no country other than Israel has had to
deal with large-scale rocket attacks on its civilian populations in the post-
World War II era, and called on the world to reject rocket attacks as
illegitimate. “It’s something you cannot do among peoples, especially if you
want to become a people.,” he said, referring to the Palestinians.
praised the operation as being based on very accurate intelligence, adding that
the air force engaged in precision strikes on targets despite operating in a
highly populated urban area, a combat zone he described as “a
The Iron Dome rocket shield had disrupted the cost-benefit
calculations of terror organizations on Israel’s borders, he
“Everyone, even terrorists, Hamas, Hezbollah, when engaged in
violence, make very precise calculations. They know the effect they want to
create and they know the price they have to pay. The cost is there... but the
benefit for them, harming Israeli civilians, is far less. Ninety percent
less. That really disrupts the calculations,” he said.