Ex-IDF intel chief: Trump moves may lead Iran to go for nukes

Former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin claimed this may bring Israel closer to the military option

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June 17, 2018 17:25
3 minute read.
Amos Yadlin

Amos Yadlin. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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US President Donald Trump’s recent foreign policy moves make it more likely that Iran will attempt to make a nuclear bomb and bring Israel closer to war, former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Sunday.

Speaking at the Combating Terrorism Technology Startup Conference on national security and cyber issues in Tel Aviv, Yadlin said the North Korea summit will push Iran to renew its uranium enrichment and eventually pursue a nuclear bomb.

He said the same thing about Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Yadlin said he hoped Iran will wilt under the pressure of renewed US sanctions, saying, “We do not know if new sanctions will be as effective as in 2013. If they are not effective, we achieve nothing. Let’s hope the sanctions will be crippling... [maybe] Iran will need to choose between regime collapse or… come back to the negotiating table.”

He added, “Knowing Iran very well, I think they will choose something else. They will renew enrichment after they see Singapore. They will go for the bomb. Then [we should ask:] Have the US president and prime minister of Israel thought about what they will do?

“President Trump will not order an attack on Iran, it will come back to Israel – this time with a green light and not a red light. But is that smart [to have to attack Iran sooner as opposed to letting the Iran deal play out]? I’m not sure,” said Yadlin.

Sitting on a panel with Yadlin, former US senator Joseph Lieberman was asked what he would advise if Iran tried to break out toward a nuclear bomb.

He said, “The sanctions are working so far” and listed Peugeot, Boeing and Total as major companies that pulled out of Iran after Trump took the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

In that light, Lieberman expressed hope that the sanctions would succeed in motivating the people of Iran to demand regime change.

“Iran didn’t expect Trump to pull out,” Lieberman said. “They thought it was a campaign promise... It is not impossible that there could be an uprising against the regime. I think that is the ultimate answer.”

However, he added, “If Iran tries breaking out of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], I really cannot predict what the president would do.”

Lieberman said he would recommend “taking military action or letting Israel do it. I would advise… military action in coordination with our allies in the region – probably in coordination with Israel.”

Giving a more hopeful view, former CIA director retired Gen. David Petraeus spoke at an earlier panel, stating, “I welcome a US withdrawal from the [Iran] nuclear agreement [to the extent that] it will see much greater pressure on Iran, not just in areas covered by the nuclear deal, but also with regard to its missile program and Iran’s malign activities… in the rest of the Middle East.”

Speaking about national security threats in the cyber arena, Petraeus said, “Action in that domain could prove to be the most important because it allows one side to disable GPS and command and control networks, and to hack into intelligence systems,” adding that “all current and future wars will be some form of hybrid between the cyber domain and land, air, sea and space.”

When asked to give President Trump advice, Petraeus answered, “Focus on the threats to America’s critical infrastructure. My biggest worry… is the idea of a cyber weapon of mass destruction in the hands of an entity that’s very hard to deter.

“How do you deter elements like ISIS, who are willing to blow themselves up on the battlefield if they have the ability to shut down the electrical grid for the whole Eastern Seaboard and keep it down?” he asked.

Petraeus suggested mitigating the threat by creating a new cybersecurity agency that would focus 100% of its energy on the issue, instead of it being divided all over the intelligence community.

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