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'Israel might take preemptive action.' Petraeus Photo: Reuters
'Israel might take preemptive action.' Petraeus Photo: Reuters
 
'Not this year.' Gates Photo: AFP
'Not this year.' Gates Photo: AFP
 
 

US general: Israel might choose strike Iran

Top commander of American forces in Middle East David Petraeus says Israeli government may decide to take preemptive military action to stop Tehran's nuclear program. Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates estimates Israel won't strike this year

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 04.02.09, 08:04 / Israel News

WASHINGTON - General David Petraeus, the top US commander in the Middle East, said that Israel might feel threatened by Iran and take military action against it.

 

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Speaking at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday, Petraeus said that “the Israeli government may ultimately see itself so threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon that it would take preemptive military action to derail or delay it.”

 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates estimated in a Financial Times interview that Israel will not attack Iran this year. “I guess I would say I would be surprised…if they did act this year,” Gates said.

 

Asked whether Iran would cross a nuclear “red line” this year, Gates said: “I don’t know, I would guess probably not.

 

“I think we have more time than that. How much more time I don’t know. It is a year, two years, three years. It is somewhere in that window.”

 

Petraeus told the Senate committee that Iran’s “obstinacy and obfuscation have forced Iran’s neighbors and the international community to conclude the worst about the regime’s intention." He expressed concern that this could lead to other regional powers developing nuclear weapons, which could in turn fall into the hands of extremist groups.

 

The Central Command chief also said that Iran was providing “material, financial and political support” to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah in Lebanon, thus interfering with the US' policies in the region.

 

He added that Iran has undermined efforts to stabilize Afghanistan by “providing opportunistic support to the Taliban” insurgency.

 

Iran's president's media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr responded to the comments in an interview to Bloomberg, saying: “Iran’s position as a powerful country that is a proponent of logic and peace, the Zionist regime’s chaotic situation, and the state of the world’s economy are realities that do not make this possible."

 

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