Israel is likely to attack Iran in the time between the November presidential election in the US and the inauguration of the new president, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton told the Daily Telegraph in an interview published Tuesday.
But he said he did not believe the US would take part in such a strike. "It's clear that the administration has essentially given up that possibility," he said. "I don't think it's serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I thought it was a real possibility. I just don't think it's in the cards."
"The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defenses," Bolton said.
"They're also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgment is they would not want to do anything before our election because there's no telling what impact it could have on the election."
Waiting for a new president, however, would cause problems for Israel, according to Bolton. "An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken to foreign policy," he said. "With McCain they might still be looking at a delay."
Bolton said that the Arab world would publicly denounce such an attack but would privately be pleased.
Referring to Israel's ability to destroy the Iranian nuclear program, Bolton said the key was to break Iran's control over the nuclear fuel cycle. "That could be accomplished for example by destroying the uranium conversion facility at Esfahan or the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz," he said.
"That doesn't end the problem but it buys time during which a more permanent solution might be found.... How long? That would be hard to say. Depends on the extent of the destruction."
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