Former Vice President Dick Cheney believes Israel would attack Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons capacity, he said in an interview aired today.
When asked about the possibility of an Israeli preemptive attack against Iran, Cheney told Newsmax TV that “Iran represents an existential threat, and [the Israelis] will do whatever they have to do to guarantee their survival and their security.”
Cheney said his assessment did not come from consultation with a particular Israeli leader, but was rather a reflection of a number of discussions with Israeli officials. “I can’t attribute it to any one particular Israeli leader. I wouldn’t want to do that,” he said. Nevertheless, he added that he “had a number of conversations with a lot of Israeli officials, and I think they correctly perceive Iran as a basic threat.”
Last month, the New York Times reported that Cheney urged the U.S. to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in June 2007, quoting excerpts from his book.
According to Cheney, former U.S. President George W. Bush refused his demands and opted for a diplomatic approach after other advisers expressed apprehension. Foreign reports indicate that the Syria reactor was later bombed by Israel in September 2007.
“I again made the case for U.S. military action against the reactor,” the New York Times quoted Cheney as writing about a meeting on the issue. “But I was a lone voice. After I finished, the president asked, ‘Does anyone here agree with the vice president?’ Not a single hand went up around the room.”
In Cheney’s autobiography, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” which is to be published by Simon & Schuster on Tuesday, he relates his experiences as Vice President to Bush, discussing his opinions on the United States’ nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea, his handling of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – when Bush was away from Washington and hampered by communications breakdowns – and his stance on Bush’s approach to dealing with Iraq.
In Bush’s own memoir, published in 2010, he claims that in 2007, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert asked him to bomb a nuclear facility in Syria. Bush was given an intelligence report on the suspicious, well-concealed facility, and Olmert then asked him in a phone conservation to bomb the site, concerned that the Syrians were developing nuclear weapons with North Korean assistance.