Top IDF general: Israel has ability to ‘completely destroy Iran’s nuclear program’

In an interview with Israel Hayom, the top IDF general dealing with Iran issues a severe public warning to the Islamic Republic.

By World Israel News Staff

The IDF general in charge of planning military preparedness against Iran warned Monday that Israel has the capability to “completely destroy” Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, who heads the IDF’s Iran Directorate, said in an extensive interview with Israel Hayom that the nuclear threat from the Islamic Republic poses a delicate and complex mission that the IDF is more than capable of handling.

The pubic interview with Kalman, described as “one of the most cautious generals in the General Staff,” shows the IDF wants the Iranians to know how Israel is confronting the strategic threat.

Kalman told Israel Hayom that 2020 saw “major changes” in the confrontation with Iran, beginning with the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani by the U.S. in January and other steps he could not reveal.

“Iran … is a challenge for our national security doctrine,” Kalman said. “I really think this is about dealing with a country with the potential to become a regional power, headed by an extreme regime with a real goal of destroying Israel.”

The general called the Iranian challenge to Israel “unprecedented” because it is a large country of 80 million people, located 1,000 miles away.

“This is a long-term strategic competition that calls on us to deploy a different kind of thinking than the one used for tackling a country on our border,” Kalman said.

The long-term strategy has to take into account Iran’s military and “also diplomatic, economic, conscientious [issues] and more. That’s how big the challenge is.”

According to Kalman, the strategy over the last 30 years has been successful, as Iran has failed to realize its nuclear ambitions and a regional nuclear arms race has been avoided.

“The Iranian people pay a very heavy price for the regime’s interest in nuclear capability. But I believe this is not an Israeli problem, but one for the whole international community,” Kalman said, emphasizing that the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons must be dealt with separately from other issues.

“The nuclear issue is the number one threat, and we have to achieve the maximum on that one. With all the rest, we’ll know how to deal,” he said, adding that Iran’s long-range missiles, including cruise missiles, are a threat to Israel because they find their way to Iran’s proxies, like Hezbollah in Lebanon.

‘The military option is always there’

Kalman believes Israel can influence the Biden administration through dialogue, which is already happening.

“The first stage is to be aligned with them [the U.S.] on the intelligence picture. The Iranian nuclear program in 2021 is not the same program that existed when the deal was signed in 2015,” he said, adding that he thinks the Americans “see the situation as we do…

“So far, this administration is keeping its promises. It has come to listen, not rush to a new deal. So, I think there’s a space of a few months to try and influence the administration’s policy.”

When it comes down to the military option, Kalman was very clear: It is an option.

“I’ve been dealing with this for 25 years. I know the plans from the tactical level to the systemic and strategic level where I am today,” Kalman said.

Asked by Israel Hayom if Israel has the ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program like it did Iraq’s in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007, Kalman responded in the affirmative.

“The answer is yes. When we build these capabilities, we build them to be operational. It’s not that there aren’t many strategic dilemmas, since the day after, Iran can go back to the plan, but the ability exists. Definitely,” he said.

However, the veteran army officer said, such a drastic move is a last resort as part of a wider strategy.

“We don’t want to use it. Maybe when I was young I did, but today I understand it must be the final resort,” Kalman said. “We need to reach a solution in other ways, diplomatically, and I think there’s a chance for that, but this tool is also important.”

“The Iranian regime is looking at this long-term, strategically, and is cautious and calculated. We already said that for them the nuclear bomb is an insurance policy, so if they understand it could endanger them – they’ll think again.”