For peace with Iran, prepare for war
This fall, all the boxes will be checked for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Consider this Aug. 1 statement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that “there are risks in the situation today . . . [but] it’s infinitely more dangerous . . . to deal with a nuclear Iran in the future.” When President Shimon Peres added his voice to the public opposition to a unilateral Israeli strike this fall, an associate of Netanyahu accused Peres of having “forgotten” the role of Israel’s president. Israeli logic holds that it must choose between, as the media reports put it, the bomb and the bombing.
The Iranian regime will soon possess enough low-enriched uranium to build an arsenal of nuclear bombs. Moreover, Iran’s deputy navy commander, Abbas Zamini, said in June that “preliminary steps in making an atomic submarine have started.” This provides Iran an excuse to continue enriching its uranium stockpiles to weapons-grade levels. Meanwhile, “P5 1” negotiations have ended without an agreement. Western-imposed sanctions have damaged Iran’s economy but have not produced a shift in the regime’s political thinking or nuclear drive. Covert operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities and scientists — for which no one has claimed responsibility — have similarly failed to stop the program. Despite some political difficulties, the regime in Tehran continues to reign.
Add to all this the issue of the “zone of immunity” — the point at which Iran’s nuclear facilities would become immune to an Israeli military strike. For Israel, the conclusion is clear.
As Netanyahu and Barak rule out arguments against an attack, they are watching developments in the Sunni world. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya have increased oil production, reducing fears that an attack would send prices skyrocketing at a time of international economic angst. The bleeding Assad regime in Syria is in no position to support Tehran. Rising Sunni-Shiite tensions in the region could potentially ease collective Islamic outrage over an Israeli attack on Iran.
Netanyahu and Barak are acutely aware of the U.S. election calendar.