As world powers gear up to continue nuclear negotiations with Iran in Geneva this Wednesday, and as Israel steps up its efforts to prevent a deal that would fail to demand a full suspension of the Iranian nuclear program, former National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said Sunday that Israel could halt Iran's nuclear weapons capability "for a very long time."
Amidror, who stepped down officially on Nov. 4, told the Financial Times that the Israeli Air Force had been conducting "very long-range flights ... all around the world" as part of what he called Israel's preparations for a possible military strike on Iran.
"We are not the United States of America, of course, and believe it or not they have more capabilities than we do, but we have enough to stop the Iranians for a very long time," he said.
Asked by the British paper whether Israel has the military capability to strike Iran's underground nuclear facilities, Amidror said that any potential strike would "include everything," but he declined to elaborate further.
"We are not bluffing. We are very serious, preparing ourselves for the possibility that Israel will have to defend itself by itself," he said. "From here to Iran, it is 2,000 kilometers [1,243 miles], and you have to be familiar with such destinations. All those who have radar cover of the Middle East know what we are doing."
According to Amidror, the training flights have been taking place "for a few years."
Asked whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ready to order a unilateral military strike against Tehran's nuclear facilities, Amidror said: "If you ask about him personally as a prime minister, he is ready to take such decisions. The answer is a clear yes."
The former national security adviser's associates said that his response was based on the assumption that Israel would find itself in a position where the world would leave it no other choice.
Iran, Amidror said, "is not just a threat to Israel, it is a threat to the whole of the Middle East and, towards the end of this decade, to the world. ... We cannot count on others to do the job if the others don’t want to do the job."
The Sunday Times alleged that Israel and Saudi Arabia are secretly working together on contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran if the emerging diplomatic deal between world powers and Iran does not significantly curb Iran's nuclear program.
Also on Sunday, a multinational air defense exercise was launched at the Ovda air base in southern Israel. The Blue Flag exercise, one of the most prestigious and high-level exercises held by allied air forces from around the world, will span some two weeks and includes the Israeli, American, Italian and Greek air forces, to name a few.
This is the first time Israel has hosted the Blue Flag exercise. Over 100 aircraft and about a thousand air and ground crew members are expected to participate.
According to Flight International, the Edge of the Spear and the Knights of Twin Tail squadrons from Tel Nof air base, the Knights of the North and the First Jet squadrons from Ramat David air base, the Knights of the Orange Tail squadron from Hatzerim air base, and the One and Bat squadrons from Ramon air base will all take part in the exercise.
The air force's Flying Dragon unit, which will host the international exercise at its home base, will also simulate the hostile Red Force during the activity.