What do you mean by zone of immunity?
It means they reach a situation where, through redundancies, neither Israel and probably not even America can do anything surgically to block it. Once Khamenei reaches this kind of situation, he can be practically assured that he [has] crossed the point of no return and will end up more like North Korea or Pakistan, rather than like Iraq or Syria.
Are you worried that a third nuclear site may be discovered?
If you wait long enough, probably you will find a third or fourth or fifth site. I don’t see any imminent sign of it. But they probably don’t need it.
I saw one report speculating that Iran can produce highly enriched uranium at Fordow.
The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] reported that they found certain materials enriched to 27 percent [at Fordow]. There are more actions taken by the Iranians to move toward nuclear military capability than we probably know about. We are not on the inside. They are very deliberate and determined to defy the whole world the way that Pakistan and North Korea did. We have to be open-eyed. We’re living in a tough neighborhood.
Can Israel launch a military strike against Iran, and can it succeed?
You can’t expect me to answer directly. We [the United States and Israel] are using the same rhetoric when we say that we are all determined to prevent Iran from turning into a nuclear military power, and we both say that all options are on the table. We mean it and we recommend to them to mean it.
And you feel the U.S. means it?
At least on a technical level, there are a lot of preparations. But it’s not a secret that America prefers that it will be solved through diplomacy. We all hope that [diplomacy] will be successful, but time is not unlimited in this regard. Iran is not just a challenge for Israel — it remains a major challenge for whoever is willing to look reality in the eyes. Iran is a radical Muslim theocracy that is trying to reach nuclear military power. It also tries to hegemonize the whole [Persian] Gulf. Talk to the leaders of the Gulf. They are terrified by the possibility that Iran will turn nuclear. A nuclear Iran will be the end of the nonproliferation regime: Saudi Arabia will turn nuclear immediately, Turkey within several years, and probably the new Egypt will start moving to do it. Not to mention the potential of weapons-grade material leaking into the hands of terrorist groups from Iran.
Then comes the issue of terror. The Iranians are sponsoring terror among the Baluchi tribe in Afghanistan, among the insurgents in Iraq — they are everywhere. They are trying to raise their profile in Cuba, in Nicaragua and Venezuela, of course. They have a global aspiration, and the world won’t be the same place once they turn nuclear. Whoever thinks that it’s complicated to deal with Iran right now, as some think-tank leaders are writing: Just close your eyes and think what it will mean to deal with these very same issues once Iran turns nuclear as a result of an absence of political will. It will be much more dangerous, much more costly in terms of human lives and financial resources. And it will become nuclear if the world will not be tough enough to stop it.