The discord between Jerusalem and Washington over what to do about Iran's nuclear program is detrimental to the international efforts to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions, the Washington Post said on Saturday, urging President Barack Obama to publicly express his determination to take military action if Tehran takes decisive steps toward producing a bomb.
The "dangerous" difference in opinion between the Obama administration and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boils down to the urgency of a strike on Iran, the US newspaper's editorial board noted; while Israel has been signaling it could take unilateral military action against Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months, the White House has been saying that there is still "time and space for diplomacy."
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The tension over the issue has been mounting in recent weeks, a situation exemplified by an array of statements made to the media by Israeli and American officials. This week Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, revealed that he had witnessed what he described as "a very sharp exchange" between Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro during meeting on August 24.
“It was very, very clear that the Israelis had lost their patience with the administration,” Rogers told a Michigan radio station.
Explicit statement forthcoming? (Archive photo: AFP)
Though Shapiro and Israeli officials denied the occurrence of the argument, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday that “the clocks are ticking at different paces” when it comes to the US and Israeli stances on the Iranian threat.
Obama statement could improve ties
But while the Washington Post said it tends to agree with the Obama administration's diplomatic inclinations, it posited that the disagreement is damaging to these efforts.
"It conveys to Iran that there is no need to worry about a war; certainly, the country’s leaders have been behaving as if they feel no pressure to compromise," the editors wrote. "It also creates the bizarre spectacle of senior US military and diplomatic officials focusing their time and attention on trying to prevent an Israeli attack rather than an Iranian bomb."
According to the newspaper, Obama has restricted his rhetoric to declaring that “all options are on the table” when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"But if Mr. Obama really is determined to take military action if Iran takes decisive steps toward producing a bomb, such as enriching uranium to bomb-grade levels or expelling inspectors, he would be wise to say so publicly," the editors wrote.
An explicit statement on the part of the president, however dangerous, would improve ties with Israel, deter and Israeli strike and could well push Iran down a path towards compromise, the newspaper said.
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