"We hope for everyone’s sake that Israel’s leaders weigh all of the consequences before they act. A military attack would almost certainly make things worse. Tough sanctions and a united diplomatic front are the best chance for crippling Iran’s nuclear program," the NYT claimed.
- 'Panetta believes Israel will strike Iran soon'
- 'All Iranian facilities are vulnerable'
- Officials discuss Israel-Iran showdown
According to the op-ed, Washington still believes there is “time and space” for sanctions to work and that "Israel must defend itself," but adds "there is a frightening scenario going around Washington and several European capitals that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel may attack Iran before the summer — believing that President Obama will not try to stop him in the middle of a re-election campaign."
Israeli defense officials claimed if a military strike is agreed upon, it would have to be postponed until the middle of next year. One official even remarked that the option of using force against Iran and causing harm to the Iranians is achievable.
The costs of an Israeli military strike — with or without American support — would be huge, and it would likely set Iran’s nuclear program back by only a few years. A strike would also unite Iranians around their government at a time when it is losing popular support fast. It would also shatter the international coalition for sanctions and draw more ire against Israel and the United States, the NYT article claimed. The editorial called for US officials to continue to pressure Israel to avoid such an attack.
Israel's disagreement with the US as to the timing of a possible military attack on Iran emerged over the weekend after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday he believes Israel is likely to strike Iran in the coming months.
Asked by journalists whether he disputes the report, Panetta said, "No, I'm just not commenting."
Aaron David Miller, a Mideast peace negotiator in the Clinton administration, told the Bloomberg website that the allies have a “significant analytic difference” over how close Iran is to shielding the nuclear program from attack.
“There’s a growing concern - more than a concern - that the Israelis, in order to protect themselves, might launch a strike without approval, warning or even foreknowledge," Miller was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, CNN reported Saturday that Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo met with US officials in Washington to discuss a possible strike on Iran.
"It is always possible to find a diplomatic solution to Iran nuclear issue", said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner Friday night in Washington. However he added that the US remains "committed to the so-called dual approach that combines diplomacy and the strengthening of the pressure. We are confident that we always have the time and space for a diplomatic solution."
In an extensive interview published by NBC News on Friday, American officials claimed that while US authorities are satisfied relying on economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, Israel is more of a "wild card," and would most likely launch an attack if intelligence confirms that Tehran is inching toward developing nuclear weapons.
The officials explained that Israel has an intermediate Jericho missile – the Jericho II - which is capable of hitting targets up to 1,500 miles away, and would most likely be equipped with high explosives, which officials described as highly accurate.
As for ground operations, some officials claimed Israeli commandos - either from the IDF or Mossad - would possibly be dropped at the sites to collect forensics or assist with illumination of the targets.
Instead of trying to completely destroy Iran's nuclear program, officials told NBC they believe the strikes will focus on the facilities that are deemed most critical, in an effort to delay the nuclear program.
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