Gulf News
June 25, 2008 - 5:37pm

John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the United Nations, has predicted that Israel could attack Iran after the US presidential election in November, but before George W. Bush's successor was sworn in.

The Arab world would be "pleased" by Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

"It [the reaction] will be positive privately. I think there'll be public denunciations but no action," he said. Israel had a determination to prevent a nuclear Iran, he said.

The "optimal window" for strikes would be between the November 4 election and the inauguration on January 20, 2009.

<A href="" target="_top"> <IMG src="" height="250" width="250" hspace="0" vspace="0" border="0" alt="Click Here!"> </A>

"The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding, both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increasing their defences by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.

"They're also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgment is they would not want to do anything before our election because there's no telling what impact it could have on the election."

But waiting for either Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, or John McCain, his Republican opponent, to be installed in the White House could preclude military action for the next four years or at least delay it.

"An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken on foreign policy," said Bolton, who was Bush's ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006.

"With McCain they might still be looking at a delay. Given that time is on Iran's side, I think the argument for military action is sooner rather than later, in the absence of some other development."

Last week, Israeli jets carried out a long-range exercise over the Mediterranean that American intelligence officials concluded was practice for air strikes against Iran.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, said that Tehran would deliver a "devastating" response to any attack.

On Friday, Mohammad Al Baradei, the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said military action against Iran would turn the Middle East into a "fireball" and accelerate Iran's nuclear programme.

Bolton, however, dismissed such sentiments as scaremongering. He said that an attack would buy time "during which a more permanent solution might be found".

The comments came as it emerged that America's proposed missile shield in Europe is unlikely to be operational before Iran gets intercontinental weapons.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017