sraeli leaders are delivering their "bluntest warnings" yet of possible airstrikes to disable Iran's nuclear program, something the U.S. and other Western leaders fear would uncork dangerous turmoil in the Middle East. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says time is running out to rein in Iran before it acquires nuclear weapons (although Tehran insists it only wants to produce nuclear energy). Leaders in the U.S. and Europe are hoping to push Iran to the negotiating table with a potentially devastating embargo on Iranian oil, though Israel appears unappeased. Despite President Obama's assurances that the U.S. is working in "lockstep" with its closest ally in the Middle East, would Israel take matters into its own hands and attack Iran without America's okay?
Israel might have no choice: The U.S. and its allies have "been pursuing diplomacy with the Iranians — for years now," says J. Robert Smith at The American Thinker. "What has that approach availed, other than buying time for the Iranians to proceed toward nuclear weapons capability?" More diplomacy and sanctions won't deter Iran's ruling mullahs. Washington might not get it, but Israel knows that "doing nothing — or delaying too long — may result in annihilation."
"Obama or the Israelis: Whom do you believe?"
Don't worry. Israel is probably bluffing: There are reasons to believe Israel's threats "are a bluff designed to spur tougher economic sanctions," says Edmund Sanders in the Los Angeles Times. Experts say "Israel's military lacks the size, breadth, and weaponry needed for the kind of sustained, multi-pronged bombing campaign" it would take to set Iran's nuclear quest back more than a year or two. And Israel's "tough rhetoric" may already be working, by pushing Europe and the U.S. to focus on Iran and impose oil sanctions.
"Israel's intentions toward Iran remain unclear"
Israel means what it says: U.S. officials "doubt that the Israelis are bluffing," says David Ignatius in The Washington Post. "Israeli leaders are said to accept, and even welcome, the prospect of going it alone" in order to demonstrate resolve as the Arab Spring undermines their security. Remember, Israel struck nuclear sites in Syria (2007) and Iraq (1981). If Iran doesn't back down, or if U.S. covert action doesn't do the job, Washington, for one, believes Israel will hit Iran's nuclear sites if that's the only way "to stop Iran from crossing the threshold."
"Is Israel preparing to attack Iran?"
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