West to Israel: Do not attack Iran

2012-02-03 12:48

Washington - Israel's major allies in the West are working hard to talk it out of a unilateral military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, arguing forcefully that an attack ultimately would strengthen, not weaken, the rulers in Tehran.

The United States is leading the persuasion initiative, even though Washington largely has concluded that outside argument will have little effect on Israeli decision-making.

Iran's regime says it wants to extinguish the Jewish state, and the West accuses it of assembling the materiel and know-how to build a nuclear bomb. Israel fears that Iran is fast approaching a point at which a limited military strike no longer would be enough to head off an Iranian bomb.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday that the world increasingly is ready to consider a military strike against Iran if economic sanctions do not persuade Tehran to give up suspect parts of its nuclear programme. Iran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.

"Today as opposed to in the past there is wide world understanding that in the event that sanctions won't reach the intended result of stopping the military nuclear programme, there will be need to consider action," Barak said in Israel.

Israeli officials asserted at a security conference on Thursday that Iran already has produced enough enriched uranium eventually to build four rudimentary nuclear bombs and was even developing missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Right to attack

Much of the agenda appeared aimed at strengthening Israel's case for a strike, if it chose to make one.

President Barack Obama maintains that the US is reserving the right to attack Iran if it one day feels it must, but an Israeli strike on Iran is more likely than a US one in the near term.

"Israel has indicated they are considering this, and we have indicated our concerns," Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday in Brussels.

Panetta would not comment on a published report that he fears Israel already has decided to go ahead. A Washington Post opinion column by David Ignatius asserted on Thursday that Panetta believes there is a "strong likelihood" that Israel will attack in April, May or June.

The US and its allies hope to hold off an Israeli strike at least until the latest round of sanctions, the first to hit Iran's lifeblood oil sector directly, take effect later this year. They argue that a strike would do more harm than good and would endanger Israel and every nation perceived to be allied with it.

Western officials offered several of the arguments being laid out to Israel by the US, Britain, France and others. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to outline the sensitive diplomacy.

Ultimate decision Israel's

A senior Obama administration official said the US and Israel have similar views of the risk of an Iranian bomb and the timeframe in which the world could act. The US, however, sees a clear "breakout" to nuclear capability by Iran as necessary before military action could be justified, the official said.

The official said the US is making its case publicly and privately but that the ultimate decision will be Israel's.

The West is appealing to Israel's self-interest, arguing that a military strike on known Iranian nuclear sites would not completely destroy Iran's nuclear capability.

The US and others say it would not be effective except in the very short term, and ultimately would strengthen the Iranian regime by rallying Iranian national pride under attack and drawing sympathetic support from other Israeli enemies.

Some of the arguments are well-known, including that widespread and unpredictable Iranian retaliation would seed more violence in the Mideast and make Israel less secure. That has been a US conclusion for several years.

A newer argument holds that the Iranian regime is weakened by years of sanctions and the implosion of its nearest ally, Syria, so it makes little sense to do something that would build it back up.

More sanctions

Some nations also are warning Israel that it would lose international backing if it should act outside international law. European nations, especially, are wary of unilateral Israeli action. US officials are careful on that point, saying the US bond with Israel is unbreakable. As a practical matter, the United States would be bound to defend Israel in a full war with Iran.

A senior European diplomat said there are signs that some in Israel are receptive to the Western push to buy time with more sanctions that could further weaken the Iranian government. The Israeli government remains divided about the wisdom of a strike, the diplomat said.

Reflecting rising international alarm at the prospect of a unilateral strike, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned Israel on Wednesday that the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme must be resolved peacefully.

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg expressed concern on Thursday that Israel could carry out a pre-emptive strike.

"Of course I worry that there will be a military conflict and that certain countries might seek to take matters into their own hands," Clegg was quoted as telling The House Magazine, a British political journal.

Clegg said Britain had been attempting to demonstrate "that there are very tough things we can do which are not military steps in order to place pressure on Iran".

Tightening the screws

In Washington, the Senate Banking Committee easily approved yet more penalties on Tehran on Thursday.

"This helps tighten the screws on them," said Senator Richard Shelby, the panel's top Republican.

The sweeping measure, which is not yet law, would target Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, require companies that trade on the US stock exchanges to disclose any Iran-related business to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and expand penalties for energy and uranium mining joint ventures with Tehran.

The legislation comes just weeks after Congress approved and Obama signed a wide-ranging defence bill that would target financial institutions that do business with Iran's Central Bank. The European Union has imposed a broad oil embargo, depriving Iran of a major market.

Several Israeli officials said this week that they were concerned that the sanctions, while welcome, were constraining Israel in its ability to act because the world expected the effort to be given a chance. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorised to discuss Iran.

Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon, who heads the strategic affairs ministry and is a former commander of the military, said all of Iran's nuclear installations are vulnerable to military strikes.

Onus on Iran

That contradicts assessments of foreign experts and Israeli defence officials that it would be difficult to strike sensitive Iranian nuclear targets hidden dozens of metres below ground.

UN chief Ban said on Wednesday that he holds Iran responsible to prove it is not pursuing nuclear weapons.

"I believe they have not yet done so," he said during a visit to Israel.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that some of Iran's alleged experiments can have no purpose other than developing nuclear weapons.

  • Wollie - 2012-02-03 13:12

    Although Israel may have a point, I do so hate it when politicians claim the world supports them when it is not the case.

      jowza1 - 2012-02-03 14:01

      you seem to know a lot about camel dung frank

      Penny-wise - 2012-02-03 14:03

      Frank have you seen the movie, 'The sum of all fears'? It takes the materials, the imported scientists who have the know-how, and some money. Iran could very well have all 3 as we speak. The radical muslims of the world are crazy enough to bomb Isreal, that's the scary part.

      Modefan - 2012-02-03 14:14

      Must be really great to at least be able to plan an attack.... . ...and not worry about an arms deal scandal, soldiers who strike, only 20 or so tanks in working condition, a sub captain who crashes the sub, anti aircraft crew that shoots down their own chopper in a training exercise...

      Squeegee - 2012-02-03 14:16

      Frank, Iran has accesss to Billions of Dollars. Scientists can be bought, materials are being developed. Expect a big BOOM in Iran soon. Israel will not allow a nuclear Iran. They don't care about what people think, they care about seeing the sun rise tomorrow.

      Jaba - 2012-02-03 14:24

      With Hezbollah's missiles beginning to rust in Lebanon, Hamas' the same in Gaza, and Assad nearing the point where he won't be able to get his first military win against Israel, my money is on the crisis in Syria to be the lynch-pin which will start the next combined attack on Israel. Iran would like to wait for their nuke, but they still have a significant (for them) conventional ability, and Assad can't wait that long. Can anyone see Bashar "leaving office" with his missiles still in their silos? I'm guessing sooner than later.

      kthage - 2012-02-03 19:05

      At the Herzliya Conference, some of the Israeli officials have admitted that Iran is not pursuing Nuclear weapons, but I guess those who want war are the loudest. Here is a snippet from conference, Major General Aviv Kochavi is an Israel Defense Forces officer here is what he had to say "to produce nuclear weapons, Iran has virtually no need of additional capabilities. Thus everything depends on the decision of the country's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. If Khamenei gives the word to create a facility to manufacture the first nuclear warhead, "we believe it would take a year. If he gives a directive to translate that capability into a nuclear warhead, we believe it would take another two or three years," Kochavi said.

      kthage - 2012-02-03 19:12

      @Penny-Wise, you are watching far too many movies, developing nuclear weapons is not a cut and dry process. @Squeegee. Iran has money, so what? Most of the countries in the middle-east have money as well, so is the rest of the world. Your logic fails. You imply that if Iran has money then it could buy off scientists. A table knife can be used as a weapon, it can kill, but having it does not necessarily mean your going to use it as a weapon.

  • Jerzy - 2012-02-03 13:16

    Let me see..... The US and Israel both possess nuclear weapons and would ultimately bombard another nation for wanting to acquire the same. I don't believe in Santa nor the tooth fairy, and I certainly didn't but the weapons of mass destruction BS they were selling. I am expected to believe that the world will end if and when Iran obtains the capability to produce nuclear weapons. I don't think so

      Chris - 2012-02-03 14:38

      @Douglas. Does that mean we SHOULD believe the world will end once Iran gets the bomb?

      Jaba - 2012-02-03 14:39

  • Andre - 2012-02-03 13:17

    The best form of defence is to attack first. Israel, don't wait till it is too late. No one is going to "extinguish" Israel. Yes, many are going to try, but with God (JHWH) as Israel's ally, they are going to be thrashed. Read your Bible, it is written!

      Alan - 2012-02-03 13:44

      Only if they want the entire Arab nation climbing into them. I really don't think that Israel wishes to risk that.

      BA - 2012-02-03 14:10

      1AmAlan: You are wrong. Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon (barring hizbolla) fear and hate iran and would only be too happy to see the present dictatator's downfall.

      Jeffrey - 2012-02-03 14:54

      @1amAlan, The combined Arab nations have tried to climb into Israel before, and Israel saw them all off.

      Alan - 2012-02-03 16:44

      Jeffrey, that was another time when they were about to be attacked. BA, the current nations are armed to the teeth, and they may hate each other, but they hate Israel more. Any excuse will do for them. I can't believe that the average Israeli wants a war.

      Chris - 2012-03-03 06:43

      All I can say... See Siener van Rensburg as well

  • Boaz - 2012-02-03 13:25

    The problem is not that Iran wants a nuclear weapon… because many countries have them…. US, UK, Russia and probably even Israel (even though no confirmed), unfortunately the Ayatollahs in Iran are crazy enough to wake up one morning and say that Allah told them to bomb Israel – they are just that mad. On this topic, below is a link to a movie a young Israeli made (it has no political motives)

      Penny-wise - 2012-02-03 13:48

      Of course Isreal has nukes. They're 'made in America'.

      Dirk - 2012-02-03 13:48

      AS Shi-ites, the Iranian madmen believe that there must be chaos in the world before their magdi(messiah) returns. They are quite capable of using a nuke

      Bones - 2012-02-03 14:18

      @Penny-wise Actually, they are South African made. Five of them at least.

      Penny-wise - 2012-02-03 14:21

      Fair comment bones. Although 'weapons grade' has a shelf life so those old SA models might not be as effective anymore. Probably still good as 'dirty bombs' though in a Tehran flea-market.

      Lincoln - 2012-02-03 17:41

      Yeh, they do.... with some help form SA along the line... Wikipedia RSA3..

  • The-Azanian - 2012-02-03 13:32

    i say to the west let israel attack an islamic country if the israelis still want to relocate to another greener pasture. kalahari desert is up for grabs, hope they turn it green.

      Douglas - 2012-02-03 14:21

      You are a prize idiot , an excellent example of your inept government's education system

  • The-Azanian - 2012-02-03 13:46

    And if us and europe goes down with the recession israel is doomed. No emerging country even some european like france and germany supports this fairyland being built from lies israelis are creating. every1 knows netanyahu is even worse than african presid

      Penny-wise - 2012-02-03 14:00

      Please only talk about subjects you know something about?

      Chris - 2012-03-03 06:47

      Azanian... Go look at Siener van Rensburg. This will be the beginning of the end for a lot of countries. World War 3 my friend. It's not far from today.

  • Dmitri - 2012-02-03 13:51

    News24 is about a day or so behind. Similar articles appeared in OZ, NZ, Japan on Wednesday already. I cannot see the US backing Israel - not with obama in charge. Besides, the US and the saudi royalty have had a "peace pact" for many years. Even if Iran retaliates, the only way I see other countries enter the war is if N.Korea or China go for the oil fields or the Straits of Hormuz gets closed. If some country wanted to take SA of the map, I for one would say - attack is the best method of defence. Pajama pants wants Israel off the map, so Israel has the right to defent herself, even if it means attacking Iran.

  • NinetiethOwl - 2012-02-03 13:52

    A quick primer for those who are capable of reasoning: "Iran's regime says it wants to extinguish the Jewish state" - No. This is a deliberate mistranslation from a speech of Ahmedinejad in which he said that continued aggression from the ZIONISTS would cause the destruction of the ZIONISTS. He did not say that he would destroy Israel. He was verbally attacking the ideology which Israel exudes and exports - essentially saying that a violent ideology would not prosper. "US officials are careful on that point, saying the US bond with Israel is unbreakable." - Translation: Israel has full sanction to do as they please without US intervention. What is the relationship between the US and Israel really? Are these two really the just force they make themselves out to be? "The legislation comes just weeks after Congress approved and Obama signed a wide-ranging defence bill that would target financial institutions that do business with Iran's Central Bank" - The notable part here is enmity towards Iran's Central Bank. Iran is one of only three nations in the world with its banking independent of international finance and its overseers. What you are witnessing is not a noble war as you have been led to believe. This is not about peace and freedom. This is a continuation of an agenda to globalise finance and extend Israeli imperialism.

      Penny-wise - 2012-02-03 14:13

      @ NinetiethFowl - Is your first name Adolf?

      Gary - 2012-02-03 14:21

      @NinetiethOwl You are absolutely right. What Israel is doing is getting the USA to fight its wars by proxy. No good will come of invading Iran. Israel is going to drag the rest of the world into an unjust war, which is really all about the oil that Iran controls. Israel has over 250 nuclear weapons and the US many thousands. Who is the real threat to the world's security? Israeli shape charges were used in the destruction of the USS Cole in Yemen and Israeli Mossad agents were captured during the 9/11 attack with a van filled with explosives, yet the US released them. The so-called attacks by Al-Qaida were false-flag attacks by the US military-industrial complex and Israel. @ BA Israel are warmongers and oppressors of the Palestinians, its a fact. That does not make me or anyone else criticising Israel a jew hater.

      Modefan - 2012-02-03 14:23

      So what? What is a noble war then? ...The crusades? ...All war throughout history is about wealth and land...and if you cant defend your shores you should be prepared to lose it

      Chris - 2012-02-03 14:27

      You are 100% correct, it's laughable that the mistranslation is still considered to be gospel by the Hasbara brigade. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that to this day, it cannot be proven that Iran is indeed pursuing nuclear weapons, after all there are IAEA inspectors all over the country looking for this exact evidence. These same inspectors are not permitted in Israel. Iran has been enriching Uranium to up to 20%, which is required for their medical research reactor, and they are entitled to do this under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement which they signed and ratified, again, unlike Israel. 20% enriched Uranium cannot be used to manufacture a nuclear bomb. Iran has for called for a nuclear free middle east FOR DECADES, with the only country not happy to oblige being...Israel. To sum it up, there's ZERO evidence of any highly enriched uranium in Iran, they adhere to agreements they have signed and ratified, and the threats of destroying Israel etc are a well known and well documented mis-translation.

      Chris - 2012-02-03 14:35

      @Penny-wise. You're actually going with Godwin on this? (Google it). Clearly everyone who is critical of Israel's foreign policies etc is a Nazi and Anti-Semite (which is a ridiculous terms as well once you figure out who is included in Semites anyway). Did you receive your Jewish Internet Defense Force badge in the mail yet from

      Jaba - 2012-02-03 14:54

      Israeli imperialism this bad ZIONISTS that...The more people like you NinetiethOwl who spew hate, the more it reinforces the importance of the continued existence of Israel. Thanks to constant reminders from people like you, Israel will keep getting stronger ... out of sheer necessity. I sleep better at night knowing there are so many folks like you around, always eager to (unwittingly) remind the world why Israel's survival is priority number one. Thank goodness for all the racists who just can't keep their hatred to themselves! Thanks for doing your part to ensure Israel's survival. And thanks to Chris as well. Your participation in the Israel project is vital and much appreciated.

      Jeffrey - 2012-02-03 14:58

      @Penny-wise, No, his name is probably Abdul.

      NinetiethOwl - 2012-02-03 15:50

      Dear neutral reader, For those of you who missed my previous piece, be advised that the like / dislike ratio on news sites and articles concerning Israel are not a genuine reflection of public opinion of Israeli atrocities. There are teams of Zionist Jews in Israel who are paid to monitor the Internet and attempt to regulate / reinforce support of Israel and the perception thereof through the spewing of lies, dogma and pro-Israel propaganda. Yes, this even affects South African sites, as the purpose of this initiative is to alter GLOBAL opinion, as global strategies are not at all alien to Israel - indeed, the very foundation of the state was part of a global plan, but the scope of that exceeds the topic at hand. Liars and paid agents want you to believe that Israel is noble and that the existence of the Israeli state is justified. What you are not told is that the very state of Israel (the modern, false incarnation) was founded on terrorism and theft. Please look into the following issues if you seek truth and don't want to be deceived: The Lavon Affair The U.S.S. Liberty incident Treatment of Arabs in occupied Palestine Use of white phosphorous by Israeli military against Palestinian civilians Repeated bombing of schools and hospitals by the IDF Destruction of Palestinian villages circa Israel's creation Israel's "one shot, two kills" sentiment concerning Palestinian civilians And this is only a short list without even considering international targets.

      Adam - 2012-02-03 18:37

      lol @NinetiethOwl im not going to dignify you by giving you a proper response to what you just wrote. instead ill say it how it is.... of course jews are concerned about the arab/islamist propaganda that is put up on blogs around the world, the amount of bad press given to them by people like you and other lieing sand scum justifies it. what i think you have failed to address in your hate speech's are the following: 1) the atrocities committed by islamists against civilian israelis for the past 60 years. 2)the appreciation of the general islamic population around the world of these civilian murders. 3)the complete lacking of a respect for life and human rights by islamic society towards their own, and more specifically any one who does not agree with their doctrine. when israeli released the first 1000 prisoners for the release of gilad shalit, the first statement given by one of the prisoners was how she urges all palestinians to kill as many israelis as possible. this statement was made to children by the way. these 1000 prisoners released were not petty criminals or political prisoners, these were cold blooded murderers, responsible for the deaths of ordinary israelis citizens getting on with their lives. when released, the palestinian people hailed these people as heros.... now why would anybody want to be friends with people like you? go rot

      Adam - 2012-02-04 19:20

      @patrick, just because everything i said went over your head dousnt make it wrong. no i dont hate arabs, i dont hate any one specifically, i do however truly dislike groups of people who make it their business to bring hate violence and misery to this world... and then have the cheek to act like they are victims. so if that is your definition of an arab, well then its you who is the racist. what pisses me off even more, is when these groups commit these acts which no human in their right mind could look at favourably, their community leaders fail to condemn their action, in many cases they condone them and beg for more. no one is special, these trash bags deserve whats coming for them.

      Adam - 2012-02-05 13:30

      ill tell you why you dont have to agree with my logic. you would prefer if the IDF did nothing and let palestinian militants run riot murdering israelis. you do not belive that israel has any right to defend her self from such attacks. you believe every action taken by palestinians to make the land an islamic state is justified because you incorrectly believe the land was once a country called palestine and was run by palestinians - we both know this was never the case. i know you believe all of this or else you would not have a problem with israels national army defending its citizen, some using pre-emptive strikes against militants. if you believed israel had a right to exist then you wouldn't be questioning the steps taken to secure its borders and more importantly its people. so you obviously dont believe israel has the right to exist, making your argument totally invalid.

      Angela - 2012-02-07 12:57

      NinetiethOwl I appreciate you logical and rational contributions. I looked up those issues you mentioned and I've gone from an Israel sympathiser to seeing the situation in a whole new light. I just don't understand how Israel can be so cruel!

  • wmkhize - 2012-02-03 13:58

    "it doenst take a hero to declare war, but it takes one to fight in it". Call Of Duty M.W

      Heiku - 2012-02-03 15:26

      Gotta be honest with you, I never thought i'd see someone quoting COD well done

  • Japana - 2012-02-03 15:30

    The world is not fair.

  • Jerzy - 2012-02-03 16:21

    Come on Douglas, Im sure you can do better than a personal insult. Stick to the topic, or stay off the boards.

  • paul.maarman - 2012-02-03 17:43

    ....- worth a read, the complexity and history of US-Israeli relations, the risk of a nuclear Iran....a well balanced approach, to a difficult question, that sooner rather then later will have to be addressed....

  • Luapolku - 2012-02-04 14:59

    To Really know whats happening in the world read this interview you will be shocked

  • Zion - 2012-02-05 08:18

    This is just another of those typical blogs that go nowhere. There will be no convergence of opinions and agreements on very few points. Proofs and citations are bandied yet very few are followed up and when so done they are manipulated to suit a particular opinion. All are or claim to be experts in the communal sphere yet Thesis, antithesis never add up to a Synthesis. After the fight, after the words bandied, after the insults thrown about due to non-acceptance of views and the Blog dies a slow and agonising death all stand back and praise themselves for nothing that has been accomplished. Not a single convert only more ignorance. But fear not: another blog, another day, in perpetuity and still nothing is built only destroyed.

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