Retiring IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi has issued a stark warning on current Iranian nuclear weapon capabilities and denoucned the new government’s efforts to split control over parts of the IDF.
In a series of interviews published Friday, days before his retirement from the military, Mr Kohavi said that of the four atomic bombs Iran currently has enough fissile material to produce, three are uranium enriched to 20 per cent, while a fourth is highly enriched with a purity of 60 per cent.
Enriched uranium is a critical component for both nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons. The level of fissile uranium in nuclear weapons, such as the one dropped on Hiroshima, typically contains 80 per cent or more.
But the gap between 20 per cent and 60 per cent enriched uranium can be closed “within weeks”, according to Mr Kohavi, posing great danger to Israel and its allies.
He said: “What is important is not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, but also not to get to the point where it can rapidly break out into a nuclear bomb within weeks.”
It was for this reason that Mr Kohavi criticised the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, which the United States left during President Donald Trump’s administration.
In a leaked video last month, President Joe Biden admitted that the Iran Nuclear Deal is “dead.”
Mr Kohavi said: “I thought it was a bad deal at the time, and I did not hide my view. Our responsibility in the IDF is to be ready to strike a substantial blow against the nuclear facilities and also against second-level military targets, and to be ready for a broader conflict with Iran.”
Mr Kohavi outlined how the IDF has in recent years stepped up preparations for an all-out conflict with Tehran, including upgraded intelligence services, increasing munitions, better operational plans, and more training.
Last year the IDF carried out two full-scale drills in the event of open conflict with Iran. One drill was during IDF’s so-called War Month, with a second in November.
According to Mr Kohavi, “We are about to hold a third very large exercise.
“In under a year, we are going to have carried out three training exercises with dozens of aircraft, refuelling aircraft and all the operative units.
“In addition, we also established an Iran Department in the IDF, led by a major general. All of this speaks for itself regarding the level of preparation that we are achieving.
“These exercises cost a lot of money, so do the munitions, and this is all in order to prepare the IDF for the day the order will be given to attack. We are preparing this option.
“If the political echelon decides, they will have this tool available and we will be ready at that moment.”
Mr Kohavi also denounced the new government’s efforts to change the military command structure by placing the control of Israel’s Border Police, which is now controlled by Israel Police, under direct control of new National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.
He said: “There cannot be two commanding authorities there. This is likely to cause damage and harm our readiness for war.
“The work that the Border Police is doing in Judea and Samaria is excellent and I hope that the situation remains just as it is today. The chain of authority needs to be preserved.”
March will mark ten years since the IDF engaged in what it calls the “Mabam”, a Hebrew acronym for the war between wars, or anti-Iranian covert operations. When Mabam first started in 2013, Israel averaged three attacks on Iranian facilities and targets per year. In 2022, Israel carried out operations on Iranian targets on average once a week.
Mr Kohavi, who oversaw a significant increase in Mabam operations, is retiring from the IDF on Monday after more than 40 years of service.
Herzi Halevi is set to replace Mr Kohavi to become the IDF’s 23rd chief of staff.