Israel may lack the military means for successful preemptive strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told Channel 2 news on Saturday.
While endorsing international efforts to pressure Tehran into curbing sensitive nuclear technologies, Israel has hinted it could resort to force. But some analysts say Israeli jets would be stymied by the distance to Iran and by its defenses.
"We are taking upon ourselves a task that is bigger than us" Halutz, who stepped down in 2007, said when asked about Israeli leaders' vows to "take care" of the perceived threat.
"I think that the State of Israel should not take it upon itself to be the flag-bearer of the entire Western world in the face of the Iranian threat," Halutz, a former air force commander, told Channel Two.
"I'm not some passer-by ... I've filled a few positions that give me a different level of information to the average person," he said without elaborating.
The United States and European nations are trying to enlist other world powers in stepping up sanctions against Iran for its uranium enrichment, a process with bomb-making potential. Tehran denies having hostile designs but its anti-Israel rhetoric has stirred war fears.
Halutz's comments came a day before the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military was set to arrive in Israel for a meeting with the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff to discuss the situation in Iran.
U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen is scheduled to meet with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as well as Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, and other senior IDF commanders to discuss joint defense issues between Israel and the U.S. and mutual security concerns.
Admiral Mullen's meetings follow remarks made by the U.S. last week when they called Iran's nuclear intentions "anything but peaceful."
Iran has rebuffed diplomatic overtures to resolve the issue and is in defiance of UN Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment.
"Should Iran continue down the wrongful course that it's on there will be consequences," State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said.
In addition to meetings with IDF personnel, Admiral Mullen also requested to meet with members from the IDF rescue delegation to Haiti and hear about their experience with rescue operations and field medical treatment.
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