Monday, 07 November 2011

Israel Considers Military Attack on Iran

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According to American intelligence sources, senior Israeli ministers who once opposed a military strike against Iran are now indicating support for such an endeavor. Those sources indicate that Israeli officials have been swayed by updates on the progress Iran has made toward building a nuclear program, believing that the next round of sanctions will not be tough enough. Israeli President Shimon Peres has warned that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly imminent, prompting U.S. officials to voice concerns that Israel may attack Iran without any warning for the United States.

Last week, the Israeli military launched a “ballistic missile” test, in addition to a large-scale civil defense drill. Though Israeli officials indicate that the drills were planned long ago, some believe the tests reveal a potential drive toward Israeli military action against Iran.

Sources indicate that information about how Israel would like to proceed with Iran will likely appear in the next International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran, expected on November 8. Members of the Obama administration claim that the change of heart is based on the notion that Iran may already possess a nuclear weapon.

Some contend that fears regarding Iran’s nuclear program have been “blown out of proportion.” According to Texas Republican Representative Ron Paul, “Iranians can’t make enough gasoline for themselves.” He said on Fox News Sunday, “For them to be a threat to us and to anyone in the region, I think it’s blown out of proportion.”

“When you put on strong sanctions, those are acts of war,” Paul said.

Meanwhile, Iran denies that its nuclear program is for anything other than power generation and medical purposes. The Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has accused the IAEA of “political” behavior and indicates that the report will be “baseless.”

"I believe that these documents lack authenticity. But if they insist, they should go ahead and publish. Better to face danger once than be always in danger," several Iranian dailies quoted Salehi as saying.

"We have said repeatedly that their documents are baseless. For example one can counterfeit money, but it remains counterfeit. These documents are like that," Salehi declared.

Likewise, Hossein Ebrahimi, senior member of the Tehran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, warned that an attack against Iran would provoke a “crushing” response from Iran.

“Before (being able to take) any action against Iran, the Israelis will feel our wrath in Tel Aviv,” said Ebrahimi.

He continued, “Since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, the US, UK and Israel have frequently threatened Iran… This is not a new development.” Claiming that Iran was able to assess Israel’s military capabilities during the Second Lebanon War, he said that Iran “found it to be weak.”

He continued:

The Israelis entered the (Lebanon) war with the capabilities they had but earned nothing but humiliation. I do not think that Israelis along with the Americans and Britons will commit such a folly.

If the threat is carried out they will see the political might of the [Islamic] establishment, the solidarity of the Iranian nation, and the strength of the country.

Iran has called upon the United Nations to denounce Washington and Jerusalem over the reported threats to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“The threats by the U.S. and Israel violate the International laws,” commented Iranian Ambassador to Uruguay Hojjatollah Soltani. “The U.N. by condemning the U.S. and Israeli threats should prove to the world that it really belongs to all countries and nations and is not controlled by a few specific countries.”

DEBKAfile.com reports that the United States’ reaction to a potential Israeli military action against Iran has been “unusually mild,” and observes some contradictory responses to the situation. “The administration has drawn certain lines: Israel should go forward with its plans to strike Iran, while Washington will stress ‘diplomatic strategy.’”

Some American military officials have even listed Iran as the “biggest threat to the United States and to our interests and to our friends in the region.”

On Friday, however, one U.S. military official indicated that the United States is “absolutely” concerned that Israel may launch an attack on Iran without warning, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahou has stated in the past that Israel would not take action against Iran without first warning the United States. According to that official, that promise “doesn’t seem so ironclad,” as Netanyahou and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are already preparing to reach a majority in the Cabinet to approve the military action.   

"It seems Iran is moving closer to having a nuclear weapon," Peres said. "In the time that remains, we need to turn to the nations of the world and tell them that the time has come to fulfill their promise and their responsibility, which is about more than imposing sanctions. We must do what should be done to stop Iran."

“The possibility of a military attack against Iran is now closer to being applied than the application of a diplomatic option,” Peres told the Israel Hayom daily newspaper, adding, “We must stay calm and resist pressure so that we can consider every alternative. I don’t think that any decision has already been made, but there is an impression that Iran is getting closer to nuclear weapons.”

Those statements following an interview he gave to Israel’s privately-owned Channel Two television on Saturday, where he indicated that an attack on Iran was becoming “more and more likely.” "The intelligence services of the different countries that are keeping an eye on [Iran] are worried and putting pressure on their leaders to warn that Iran is ready to obtain the nuclear weapon," he said.

Haaretz.com reports, however, that a majority of the 15 members of Israel’s security cabinet continue to be against a strike. Likewise, an Israeli newspaper poll indicates that the Israeli people are split over the possibility of a nuclear strike, with 41 percent in favor of military action, 39 percent opposed to it, and 20 percent still undecided.

The assertions reportedly have the United States on watch. Haaretz notes, “The U.S. has increased its ‘watchfulness’ of Iran and Israel over the past few weeks, U.S. Central and European Commands, which watch Iranian and Israeli developments respectively, are ‘increasingly vigilant’ at this time, according to the official, and a second military official who also spoke with CNN.”

Most of the concern regarding the potential Israeli attack against Iran is how it may impact the safety of the American troops stationed in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

Likewise, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has warned that an Israeli attack on Iran could be disastrous. "We have imposed sanctions that continue to expand, we can toughen them to put pressure on Iran," Juppe told Europe 1 radio, adding, "We will continue on this path because a military intervention could create a situation that completely destabilises the region. Everything must be done to avoid the irreversible."

For example, Iranian officials have indicated that any military action against Iran would force it to close the Strait of Hormoz, an area reportedly of “strategic importance as the gateway to the Persian Gulf."

Similarly, one Iranian blogger has pleaded with Israel to reconsider an attack on Iran: “The Iranian regime is insane. The regime may choose to fire rockets at Iraq, Afghanistan and even Europe.”

Photo: Israeli Air Force fighter jets

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