Ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday, July 25, that during his tenure (under President George W. Bush), a strike was "way down the list" of options. But now it "seems inexorable" because no matter what the US does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.
Talking to CNN's State of the Union, Gen. Hayden predicted Iran would build its program to the point where it's just below having an actual weapon. In his view, "That would be as destabilizing to the region as the real thing."
debkafile's sources take this as affirmation that neither Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states nor Israel will be willing to live on constant edge with an Iran which can build nuclear bombs or warheads whenever it likes. They note that Hayden has added his voice to a growing number of leading American figures and publications which have indicated in the past fortnight that the military option against Iran has climbed the top of President Barack Obama's list of priorities.
According to our Washington sources, the US president switched course after hearing Saudi King Abdullah assert explicitly: "We cannot live with a nuclear Iran."
Abdullah added he no longer believes diplomacy or sanctions will have any effect and made it clear that if the Americans continued to back away from direct action to terminate Iran's advance on a nuclear bomb, the Saudi and its allies would go their own way on the nuclear issue.
Today, therefore, the White House is no longer willing to countenance Iran's nuclear development advancing up to the threshold of a weapons capacity and stopping there. And since Tehran will never cede its prerogative to determine every stage of its nuclear program without outside interference, the only option remaining to the United States is military.
(This radical change in the Obama administration's outlook was examined in depth in the latest DEBKA-Net-Weekly issue 454 published July 23.)
debkafile's Washington sources add that the White House was finally brought to the point of seriously considering military action against Iran, as Gen. Hayden noted – not as a result of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's efforts at persuasion – which failed, but because of the Saudi ruler's ultimatum.
The Middle East can therefore expect far-reaching military shifts and redeployments in the coming weeks -but Israel is not likely to gain any kudos for this new development because it has lost considerable traction under the incumbent government.