EXCLUSIVE: Israeli Official Says Strikes on 'Bottlenecks' Could Cripple Iran's Nuke Program

After Ahmadinejad's threat, Israel says air strikes are a possibility.

ByABC News
September 22, 2010, 12:11 PM

Sept. 22, 2010— -- A top Israeli warned today that Iran's vast nuclear program could be crippled for years with airstrikes on just a "few bottlenecks, important ones."

Israel's public calculation came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that he would unleash a "war without boundaries" on the U.S. if it allowed Israel to attack its nuclear complex. "War is not just bombs," the Iranian president threatened.

Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Dan Ayalon was asked today in an exclusive interview with ABC News Radio whether Iran's nuclear facilities face potential air strikes, nuclear or otherwise, by Israel or the United States.

"Let me answer hypothetically," Ayalon responded. "We know that the operation, this illegal operation in Iran, is vast. It's enormous. So that, of course, begs the question, can it be taken out? The short answer is yes."

"But if I needed to elaborate," Ayalon said, "I would say that it would be enough to just take out a few bottlenecks, important ones, just to put their program behind for years."

Ayalon said that now is a time to hope for real change in Iran, but despite the fact that Iran is under international sanctions, it has continued to advance its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad, who is in New York to attend the annual opening of the U.N. Assembly, said Monday that his country is on the verge of turning on its nuclear power plants.

Iran continues to deny, though, that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, despite mounting evidence including missile tests and secretive underground nuclear facilities.

During his comments Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said he was prepared to meet with the Obama administration, but that "the whole outlook has to shift." Sanctions in particular, he said, had damaged the chances for an improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations.