By Geneva Sands - 01/13/12 04:53 PM EST
Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an MSNBC and NBC military analyst, said Friday that he predicts Iran will have nuclear weapons within the next five years.
“The existence of Israel is at stake,” McCaffrey said Friday on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”
“In the coming five years the Iranians are going nuclear. Within 60 months they’ll have a dozen weapons. They’ve got Shahab-3 missiles. Probably more than 150 now that can strike Israel.”
He added that the region is “on edge” because of these developments.
“By the way, the Israelis have more than 150 nuclear weapons including thermonuclear capacity, so we are properly concerned,” he said.
The general said he doesn’t believe economic sanctions and covert operations will prevent Iran from reaching its goal of developing nuclear capabilities.
“We’re going to face a nuclear-armed Iran in the very near future,” he said. “And this is bad news for the region and world peace.”
Tensions between the United States and Iran were brought to the forefront again last week with the assassination in Iran of the deputy director of an Iranian nuclear facility.
Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed after a motorcyclist planted a bomb under his car, according to Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency.
The United States has denied involvement in the assassination.
“I want to categorically deny any United States involvement in any kind of act of violence inside Iran,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a Wednesday news conference.
When asked whether he thought the United States or Israel was involved in the attack, McCaffrey didn’t give a direct answer, but said, “Thank God for the CIA. These are the most competent, clever people on the face of the planet.
“I hope we are doing everything we can in covert operations to signal them that this is a real threat to the region.”
McCaffrey pointed out the potential of involvement from other countries — including Saudi Arabia — in the incident.
“The Saudis, the Gulf Coast states, the Sunni Arabs are properly horrified at the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran in the near future,” McCaffrey said.