WASHINGTON – Israel and the United States are on a diplomatic collision course over whether immediate military action needs to be taken against the Iranian nuclear program.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey noted Tuesday that an Israeli strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities may be able to hinder Tehran's atom ambitions but it will not destroy the nuclear program.
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"Militarily, my assessment hasn't changed. And I want to make clear, I'm not privy to their planning. So what I'm telling you is based on what I know of their capabilities. And I may not know about all of their capabilities. But I think that it's a fair characterization to say that they could delay but not destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities," he said.
But could it be that creating such delays is the way to go? "Israel would be willing to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, even if doing so only delayed its ability to produce nuclear weapons for a few years," Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren said in a Bloomberg interview.
Defense Minister Barak and General Martin Dempsey (Photo: Defense Ministry)
"One, two, three, four years are a long time in the Middle East," he said, referring to the fast pace changes frequenting the region. "In our neighborhood, those are the rules of the game."
"Diplomacy hasn’t succeeded. We’ve come to a very critical juncture where important decisions do have to be made," he told the news agency.
The ambassador further described the Iranian threat as "unprecedented in the country’s 64 years."
He further noted several other threats: "The Arab Spring has roiled neighbors Egypt and Syria, the Sinai Peninsula is becoming a magnet for militant groups and terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and property are rising around the world."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were quoted over the past few weeks as saying that Israel alone will make the decisions about its security.
Earlier in August, US President Barack Obama was quoted as saying that the United States believes that Iran will reach "the critical point" in its nuclear program in 18 months.
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