Perle: Iraq errors show West must act fast on Iran
Richard Perle, a key architect of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, said on Saturday the West should not make the mistake of waiting too long to use military force if Iran comes close to getting an atomic weapon. "If you want to try to wait until the very last minute, you'd better be very confident of your intelligence because if you're not, you won't know when the last minute is," Perle told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich.
"And so, ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of Iraq is you'd better be careful how long you choose to wait." READ MORE
Perle said Israel had chosen not to wait until it was too late to destroy the key facility Saddam Hussein's secret nuclear weapons program in Osirak, Iraq in 1981. The Israelis decided to bomb the Osirak reactor before it was loaded up with nuclear fuel to prevent widespread radioactive contamination.
"I can't tell you when we may face a similar choice with Iran. But it's either take action now or lose the option of taking action," he said.
Asked if he thought a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities was an inevitability, Perle said: "I hope that can be avoided but that's always a possibility. We are talking about physical facilities and they're always vulnerable."
Perle is one of the top U.S. neoconservatives who advocated a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam and seize alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. No such stockpiles were found after the war and U.S. President George W. Bush has acknowledged that the intelligence was bad.
Perle served under U.S. President Ronald Reagan as an assistant secretary of defense and on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004. He was an influential chairman of the Board from 2001 to 2003.