Former CIA Chief Hayden Cautions Israel Against Iran Strike
September 5, 2012 • 1:29PM

In an interview with Ha'aretz's Amir Oren, the former CIA Director, Gen. (USAF-ret) Michael Hayden cautioned Israel not to attack Iran, because Iran will achieve a nuclear-weapons capability no earlier than 2013 or 2014. Hayden arrived in Tel Aviv Monday for a seminar at the Institute for National Security Studies by its cyber-warfare program, run by retired Israel Defense Forces Col. Gabi Siboni.

Gen. Hayden (ret.) was Director of Central Intelligence from 2006-09 and is currently a principal at the security consultancy founded by Bush's Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff; he also teaches intelligence at George Mason University, and was named as one of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's national security advisers — though Romney has yet to talk with him.

"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... and Israel's resources are more limited than those of the U.S.," Hayden told Ha'aretz. "There is no absolute certainty that all targets are known. They will have to be revisited — which only the U.S. Air Force would be able to do — and the operation will only set the Iranians back some time — and actually push them to do that which it is supposed to prevent, getting nuclear weapons.

"While it is probably true that the so-called 'window' regarding effective action is closing, there is still some time, as real decisions are to be made in 2013 or 2014."

Oren reminds his readers that as CIA director, Hayden supervised the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which concluded in late 2007 that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons program, though not its advance along the critical paths of uranium enrichment and delivery-systems development. Oren writes that this conclusion still holds, in Hayden's view.