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Cheney: Israel Will Bomb Iran Reactor if Need Be

Former US vice president Dick Cheney says Israel has the will to act if it concludes Iran's nuclear program poses an existential threat.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/12/2011, 10:40 PM

Former US vice president Dick Cheney said Monday that Isael is likely to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if it proves necessary in order to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“I think Iran represents an existential threat, and (Israel) will do whatever they have to do to guarantee their survival and their security,” Cheney told Newsmax.

Asked whether he based his prediction on a specific source, Cheney said he cannot attribute it to any one Israeli source, and "wouldn’t want to do that.”

However, the former vice president noted he'd had several conversations with top Israeli officials who "correctly perceive Iran as a basic threat.”

Cheney's comments come as Iranian officials kicked off the launch of the Islamic Republic's 1000-megawatt Bushehr reactor in southern Iran with celebrations and fanfare.

Similar Situation

In his recently released autobiography, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir," Cheney mentions another state with nuclear ambitions – Syria.

In an interview with The New York Times last month, Cheney claimed President George W. Bush rejected his advice in 2007 to bomb a suspected nuclear reactor site at al-Kibar in Syria, and that he was "a lone voice" for military action against the country.

According to Cheney, other advisers were reluctant because of "the bad intelligence we had received about Iraq's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction" before the 2003 invasion of that country.

Ultimately, it was Israel who bombed the Dair Alzour complex at al-Kibar on 6 September 2007. The following year International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials confirmed the nature of the al-Kibar site when they reported, "significant natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin."

According to the IAEA, "Imagery taken prior to and immediately after the bombing indicates that the destroyed box-shaped building may have had underground levels. Its containment structure appears to have been similar in dimension and layout to that required for a biological shield for nuclear reactors, and the overall size of the building was sufficient to house the equipment needed for a nuclear reactor of the type alleged."

US intelligence officials noted the Syrian site was an approximate copy of the unique North Korean nuclear site at Yongbyon at the time, saying they "measured the footprint of the Yongbyon reactor building and compared it to that of the suspected reactor building in Syria and found the two footprints were approximately the same."

A Viable Threat

In his interview with Newsmax, the former vice president referred to the 10th year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, saying “I still worry more than anything else really about the possibility of a group of terrorists acquiring really deadly capabilities.”

“When we got hit on 9/11 there were 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters. The next time around I worry they may have a nuclear device or biological agent of some kind and would be in a position to inflict far greater damage and loss of lives than anything we experienced on 9/11. I think that’s still a very real threat.”