WASHINGTON – Neither the US nor Israel has the ability to keep Iran from getting
a nuclear bomb, a retired top US general said Thursday.
“If they have the
intent, all the weapons in the world are not going to change that, because the
knowledge is there and they’d just build it back,” said retired Gen. James
Cartwright, who served as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until
last year, about what would happen should the US use force to take out the
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, Cartwright also said that, should Israel attack, the country “can delay
it, some people estimate two to five years. But that does not take away the
intellectual capital. That does not take away the ability of the Iranians
to then proliferate the sites.”
Cartwright said he didn’t “see a lot of
value in going in,” particularly since an attack was likely merely to galvanize
Iran to redouble its efforts, and suggested that his feeling was widespread
throughout the US military.
Retired Adm. William Fallon, who appeared
with Cartwright at CSIS, said the idea of either country attacking Iran was
“certainly not a preferred option” among US military brass, and said any
effective operation would require boots on the ground in Iran.
who resigned from his post as the commander of US Central Command during the
George W. Bush administration after making outspoken comments on Iran, added
that the US was unlikely to undertake such a mission.
acknowledged that it was possible that speaking openly about opposition to a
military attack could erode the credible threat of force underpinning diplomacy
with Iran, but said such a scenario was improbable because of the ambiguity Iran
would perceive in US thinking.
“It’s not likely that it’s going to
diminish the threat of a strike,” he said.
He also said that it wasn’t
clear how the US would respond should Israel decide to launch an attack on its
own, but that it would be extremely unlikely to try to stop the IAF if its
planes were in the air.
Fallon stressed that the US and Israel share many
objectives and values when it comes to the region, and that would encourage the
US to work with Israel in such a scenario.
“We will certainly cooperate
on things to the maximum extent that we can,” he said.
going to share intelligence, because we think that any weaponization capability
in Iran is not in either of our best interests.”