Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview from Tel Aviv yesterday that Israel needed to be prepared to “take on Iran” in the event that international talks with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program expire without an agreement. Oren said the threat of a nuclear Iran overshadowed Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and meant Israel had to be wary of a full Gaza invasion.
In contrast to those Israeli leaders who have said that the Israel Defense Forces needed to “re-occupy” Gaza to root out Hamas, Oren said a ground operation should be more limited. Not only would a larger invasion require fighting in civilian areas, but there was the “possibility that Iranian nuclear negotiations go into a prolonged state, and expire. I don’t think Israel wants to be fighting in Gaza at the same time that we take on Iran.”
The six-month deadline for the nuclear talks is July 20. Negotiators are far apart on the core issues, and the interim deal that led to the talks already backed down from earlier international demands to stop all nuclear enrichment activity. The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that the interim deal would “eliminate” Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium, but that is false, because the oxidization process is reversible.
Iran touted the interim deal in January as a “surrender” by the West, with Foreign Minister Zavad Jarif noting that the regime “did not agree to dismantle anything.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal as an “historic mistake.” Events thus far have confirmed that assessment, as the Iranian economy recovers due to sanctions relief and the Tehran regime feels even less pressure than before to accede to U.S. demands.
Oren told Breitbart News that the possibility of Israeli military action against the Iranian nuclear threat was not something new, and that Israel had always reserved the right to act in its own self-defense.
The possibility of an Israeli pre-emptive strike without American approval may have increased during the Gaza conflict, as the U.S. has called for a ceasefire rather than offering full support from the outset to Israel’s response to Hamas attacks.
That widened a gap that has been growing in recent months, not only over Iran but also over Iraq, as Israel has supported Kurdish independence as a counter to both Sunni extremists in ISIS and Iranian-backed Shia forces. The U.S. has discouraged Kurdish independence, urging Kurdish leaders to continue to support a unified Iraq.
The nuclear talks may be extended–but they will eventually “expire,” Oren said, and Israel had to be free to act.