The potential for an armed standoff between a nuclear Iran and Israel is not comparable to the Cold War and the United States should be prepared to take military action with the Jewish state, perhaps as early as this year, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch declared in an interview with Newsmax.TV.
Koch, 87, who was one of the most colorful figures in New York politics, said he would not take military action until economic sanctions are given a “reasonable chance” to succeed.
“You can just extend this forever and then the Iranians would be able to harden the sites — and even the United States wouldn’t have the military hardware that could destroy it,” Koch said in a wide-ranging interview in which he said that he also believes President Barack Obama has turned the corner with respect to his policy toward Israel.
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“Well I believe he is a supporter of Israel and intends to, as he put it, protect its back,” according to Koch. “I hope it would take also the position of protecting the whole state — front and back — and joining with Israel at the appropriate moment in a military strike against Iran.”
The former three-term mayor of New York, which has one of the largest concentrations of Jewish voters in the United States, declined to speculate on an appropriate amount of time for the sanctions to work, but he acknowledged that a military strike could be appropriate before the end of the year.
“Well I’m not an expert, so I’m not going to set the time, but I do believe that we have in the past waited much too long between threats and sanctions, and repercussions,” added Koch, who served as New York’s 105th mayor from 1978-89. “What I would hope is that Israel and the United States could sit down and decide between the two of them how to go forward.”
Koch added that “I’m sure we’ll hear from Israel publicly if they are not able to get an arrangement where the U.S. and Israel can privately sit down and make the decision.”
Israel faces an “existential threat” from a nuclear Iran, said Koch, which is not comparable to the premise of mutually assured destruction that became a fundamental tenet of the Cold War standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union.
“Israel is a small country. Iran already has the rockets capable of delivering a nuclear weapon and they can just destroy Israel even if Israel is able to respond with planes, and sends over a large number of nuclear bombs,” explained Koch, who is also a Newsmax contributor. “Iran is such a big country that they couldn’t possibly destroy it.”
Repeating the disclaimer that he is not an expert on Iran’s nuclear program, Koch added that he believes the country is close to posing a nuclear threat to Israel.
“The Iranians are very intelligent people. They have scientists. They’ve been working on this for a long time,” according to Koch. “I have concluded they have to be close to having perfected the weapon.”
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