While an Israeli air strike could cause a temporary setback to Iran's nuclear program, it would take the U.S. Air Force to finish the job, retired Air Force General and former CIA Director Michael Hayden said in an interview published September 4 in the Israeli daily Haaretz.
"I do not underestimate the Israeli talent, but geometry and physics tell us that Iran's nuclear program would pose a difficult challenge to any military," said Hayden, who was CIA director from 2006 to 2009. "Israel's resources are more limited than those of the U.S," he added.
Hayden's comments supported previous statements by American officials that a single bombing raid would not be able to inflict significant damage on Iran's heavily fortified nuclear sites. "They will have to be revisited — which only the U.S. Air Force would be able to do," Hayden said. And he cautioned that a strike on Iran "will only set the Iranians back some time and actually push them to do that which it is supposed to prevent, getting nuclear weapons."
The Obama administration, meanwhile, is moving forward with plans for naval exercises and new antimissile systems in the Persian Gulf, along with a tightening of the embargo on Iranian oil. More than 25 nations will join the United States in a minesweeping exercise in the Persian Gulf later this month in what is billed as a demonstration of unity against Iran's threats to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, the New York Times reported.
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Photo of former CIA Director Michael Hayden: AP Images