Glyn: How do you react — both as a defense analyst and as an Israeli — to President Obama’s saying that he won’t allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon? Do you believe him?
Katz: I think for Israel, it was very interesting to listen to President Obama’s speech to AIPAC, and how he ruled out the possibility of containment of a nuclear Iran, which was definitely a concern for Israel. I think Israel was very happy to hear that. But it comes down to the basic question of whether Israel should be relying on someone else — in this case the United States — to deal with potential threats to Israel’s very existence. If you judge by Israel’s history, Israel has shied away from that kind of strategic thinking. In 1981, Israel bombed the Iraqi reactor against America’s desires, and there was a falling out with the Reagan administration, which suspended the delivery of fighter jets to Israel. In 2007, Prime Minister Olmert came to President Bush to ask America to take care of Syria, but President Bush declined to do so. Israel then decided that it had no choice but to deal with it on its own. So you see that in dealing with these issues, while Israel is very sensitive to the United States’ opinion, I think Israel ultimately has to do what’s in its own strategic interest.
Glyn: What is your prediction for the next ten months or so? Do you think Israel will strike? And is that based on intelligence and reporting, or just a gut instinct?
Katz: I think it’s very possible Israel will take action against Iran in 2013 or possibly by the end of 2012. I think Israel would prefer a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian threat — primarily, seeing that the sanctions work and the Iranians voluntarily stop their nuclear program. The Israelis are preparing an option that can be used if all else fails. The reason they would consider taking action now is that at a later stage the military option might no longer be viable, because of Iran’s dispersal of its capabilities and fortification of its facilities. So that’s why it’s imperative that Iran be stopped in the near future. But at the same time, if there are further delays, if the sanctions bite, if the Iranians stop enrichment, if they change their course, that would postpone Israeli plans. If Iran does not stop, I think it’s very possible Israel will take action in the coming year or so.
— Noah Glyn is an editorial intern at National Review.