While the statements of America’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey do not carry any revelation, the words of the senior US military chief are making the news. General Dempsey simply reiterated what all reports have indicated over recent months, that an Israeli aerial strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities can only delay the nuclear program but not destroy it.
Speaking to members of the press in the Pentagon the US military chief responded to questions seeking his opinion regarding a possible Israeli strike. He stated “I am 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.”
America’s Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the media “Obviously, they’re an independent, sovereign country. They’ll ultimately make decisions based on what they think is in their national security interest. But I don’t believe they made that decision at this time.”
Panetta’s statement comes after his recent visit to Israel during which time he held meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak among others, and it is clear a possible Israeli assault against Iran was on the agenda.
During recent months numerous senior American military and intelligence community officials have meet with the two senior Israeli ministers as Israel’s staunchest ally continues to work with Jerusalem towards preventing Tehran from achieving nuclear independence. Despite the close relationship maintained between the two countries, their intelligence assessments regarding the ‘window of opportunity’ for a strike against Iran are not in sync, with America patiently calling to turn up the heat on Iran by increasing economic sanctions, insisting it is too early to speak of a military strike.
In Israel the government appears to feel time is running out yet in statements to the media, many experts in Israel have signaled their opposition to an Israeli attack that does not enjoy US backing an involvement. Opponents to a unilateral Israeli attack include MK Shaul Mofaz, a former IDF chief of staff and defense minister, as well as Gabi Ashkenazi, a former IDF chief of staff and former heads of the ISA (Israel Security Agency – Shin Bet) and Mossad.
The media speculation seems to point at an Israeli plan to launch an assault against Iran in October 2012, citing the November presidential elections in the United States as one of the determining factors. Analysts are in agreement, citing Israel prefers to attack before a new American president is elected since President Barak Obama’s attitude towards Israel will most likely be less cordial than today if elected to a second term in office.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)