F-15US Department of Defense

A former U.S. Air Force General and CIA director says Iran cannot get the bomb before next year, when the US is better able to attack.

Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA when Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear reactor under construction, told the Haaretz newspaper in an interview, "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."

Hayden added, "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, as it is not a raid, and Israel's resources are more limited than those of the U.S.”

Now a security consultant and previously mentioned as a possible national security advisor during Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Hayden is in Israel to attend an Institute for National Security Studies seminar on Tel Aviv.

He echoed several reasons stated by others who are against Israel’s staging a military strike to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

"There is no absolute certainty that all targets are known," according to Hayden. "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."

He also revealed that following the Israeli attack on the Syrian reactor site in September 2007, the United States feared that Syrian would retaliate and spark a war. Hayden said that the Bush administration coordinated with Israel that no statements would be made implying Israel carried out the pre-emptive strike.

Six months later, he estimated that the self-imposed gag policy no longer was necessary.