Daily Israel Report

IDF Chief of Staff: 'All Options Open' on Iran

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi warned Monday that Israel has the right to defend itself from Iran, and that "all options are open."
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 9/21/2009, 4:44 PM

(IDF)

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi politely warned Iran Monday that Israel is prepared to defend itself from any attack the Islamic Republic might consider launching against the Jewish State.

During an interview with IDF Army Radio, Ashkenazi pointed out that "the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear power is a threat not only to the State of Israel, but for the Middle East and the entire free world."

The chief of staff added, "We all understand that the best way of coping is through international sanctions... I hope that Iran will understand this."

Ashkenazi made it clear, however, that if the Islamic Republic continued with its current drive toward what appears to be the development of nuclear weapons, Israel would find a way to stop it.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon expressed a similar view in an interview Monday with the Reuters news agency.

Rejecting comments attributed to President Shimon Peres last week, Ayalon also said that the option of taking military action against Iran remained on the table.

Contradicting a claim made Sunday on CNN by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Peres had said Israel would not launch an attack on Iran, Ayalon said, "It is certainly not a guarantee. I don't think that, with all due respect, the Russian president is authorized to speak for Israel and certainly we have not taken any option off the table."

Medvedev told the interviewer, "When he visited me in Sochi, Israeli President Peres said something important for us all: 'Israel does not plan to launch any strikes on Iran, we are a peaceful country and we will not do this.'" The Russian president described the possibility of such an attack as "the worst thing that can be imagined."

Another international personality deeply invested in making sure that Israel does not attack Iran is Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Brzezinski, who served the White House from 1977 to 1981, called on U.S. President Barack Obama this week to shoot down Israeli planes if they attack Iran.  In an interview with the Daily Beast, Brzezinski was quoted as saying, "They have to fly over our air space in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?"

Currently a professor of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Maryland, the former White House official added, "We have to be serious about denying them that right. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back, or not."

Lt.-Gen. Ashkenazi maintained, however, that Israel will do whatever is necessary to defend itself when the time comes.

"Israel has the right to defend itself, and all options are open," said the IDF Chief of Staff. "The IDF's working premise is that we have to be prepared for that possibility, and that is exactly what we are doing."

With regard to the cooperation between the IDF and the U.S. Armed Forces that would be essential should military intervention become necessary, Ashkenazi said that "professional and productive cooperation" exists between the two forces.

"We have a special relationship with the United States," IDF Chief of Staff said, adding that he also has a strong personal relationship with Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.