May 18, 2022

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Israel will act if Iran reaches nuclear breakout status tomorrow, Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir said on Saturday.

Speaking at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Florida, the former IDF deputy chief of staff said the world could not trust the Iranians. Iran would only stop its efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb if it were faced with a clear deterrent threat, he said. The United States has both the will and the ability to act, he said, and Israeli officials would prefer that the United States take the reins on the issue. However, if Washington does not act, “We have the ability to do it,” he said, adding, “I have seen the plans.”

Herzli Halevi, incoming deputy chief of staff with outgoing deputy chief of staff Eyal Zamir during a ceremony at Hakirya base in Tel Aviv, July 11, 2021. Photo by Flash90 

“What is this formula?” Erdan asked in an interview at the event. “The answer is quite clear: We should listen to the wise words of [U.S.] President [Theodore] Roosevelt, who used to say, ‘Speak softly, but also carry a big stick.’ The international community for many years spoke very softly to Iran. Sanctions are very important, but the sanctions are not enough.”

Iran, said Erdan, is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. “And this is the time now to present the Iranian regime [with] a credible military threat that would force them to decide between their own survival as a regime and their nuclear ambitions. And I believe the answer will be clear; Iran will rush to the negotiating table once presented with a credible military threat.”

He said that Israel cannot rely on the international community, as the Islamic Republic poses a threat to its very existence.

“We are not going to wait until Iran becomes a nuclear threshold country,” he said. “We are leaving all options on the table, and we’re not going to hesitate. We will do whatever is needed.”