Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy added to speculation of an impending Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear program in a statement published by The New York Times Wednesday.
"If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks," Halevy said.
Speculation in the media and in political circles about the timing of a potential attack on Iran has focused in recent weeks on whether it needs to happen over the summer, before the US elections, or if it can wait until afterward, maybe as far away as next spring.
Earlier in the week, both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that time was running out for sanctions and diplomacy to have an effect on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Both men made the statements during a visit to Israel by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
“We clearly have something to lose by this stretched time [during] which sanctions and diplomacy takes place, because the Iranians are moving forward, not just in enrichment,” Barak said.
Speaking before meeting Panetta in his office, Netanyahu said the constant rhetoric about all options being on the table regarding Iran has not moved the ayatollahs.
Although acknowledging that sanctions have had an affect, and predicting the recent sanctions US President Barack Obama and Congress have advanced will have an even greater impact, Netanyahu said neither the sanctions nor the diplomacy have had any influence on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program.
Noting that Panetta said recently that if all else fails America would act, the prime minister said that “however forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them. Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. This must change and it must change quickly, because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.”
In an interview on Channel 2 on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu – when asked whether he believes the US when its leaders say unequivocally that they won’t allow Iran to gain nuclear weapons – replied that the “source and foundation of the State of Israel is that we will not leave in the hands of others, not even our best friends, matters concerning our fate.”
Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders