by Nathan Guttman, Jerusalem Post

Former Chief of Staff, Moshe (Bogi) Ya’alon says that Israel has a military option against Iran’s nuclear program and that it should not take it out of consideration. In a speech at the Hudson Institute — a Washington think tank.

Ya’alon gave a rare detailed description of Israel’s military possibilities regarding Iran. He acknowledged the fact that Iran has its nuclear programs spread out in many sites and said that Israel can overcome the Iranian air defense system and carry out air strikes against several dozen sites which are used for the nuclear development project. According to Ya’alon, who is now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities should include not only the Israeli air force, but also air forces of the US and European countries and should take place only after Iran is isolated internationally both economically and diplomatically.

Ya’alon stressed in his speech that such air strikes against Iran, will not completely destroy the Iranian nuclear program, but can set it back several years. The former chief of staff predicts that, if not dealt with, Iran is only 6 to 18 months away from achieving the nuclear know-how and 3-5 years from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

The issue of an Israeli air strike against Iran’s nuclear sites has been discussed many times in the past and was largely seen as impractical because the facilities Iran uses are spread out all over the country. Ya’alon, in his speech at the Hudson Institute, said that striking a nuclear facility in Iran is no more difficult than targeting a terror suspect in the territories as Israeli air force has been doing for the past five years.

The former Chief of Staff did acknowledge the fact that any Israeli strike against Iran would lead to a harsh retaliation against Israel. He said they might try launching missiles from its own territory towards Israel or to use the Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Hamas in Gaza in order to fire rockets into Israel. Yet Ya’alon added that Israel can withstand such an attack, thanks to its effective anti-missile systems.