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How Immediate is Iran’s Nuclear Threat?

U.S. and Israeli officials disagree over timeline, responses

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As mentioned this morning, U.S. and Israeli officials disagree about the immediacy of Iran’s nuclear threat. While the U.S. is pushing for harsher sanctions and covert actions to stifle the development of Iran’s nuclear program, Israel warns that the time at which an attack on Iran will be futile is fast approaching.

According to the Times:

At its core, the official said, the argument the Israelis make is that once the Iranians get an “impregnable breakout capability” — that is, a place that is protected from a military strike — “it makes no difference whether it will take Iran six months or a year or five years” to fabricate a nuclear weapon, he said.

The Americans have a very different view, according to a second senior official who has discussed the concept with Israelis. He said “there are many other options” to slow Iran’s march to a completed weapon, like shutting off Iran’s oil revenues, taking out facilities that supply centrifuge parts or singling out installations where the Iranians would turn the fuel into a weapon.

The article points out that disagreement between the U.S. and Israel on this issue is inevitable, given Israel’s geographic proximity to Iran (also, that whole ‘wipe Israel off the map’ thing).

In November, Tablet addressed the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, with Anshel Pfeffer asking Will They? and Austin Long asking Can They? Pfeffer argued:

The decision to go to war with Iran is not a political one. It is one of the few issues that transcends Israel’s left-right divide. Benny Begin and Moshe Yaalon, two of the most hardline right-wing ministers in the “Octet Forum,” the Israeli Cabinet’s main decision-making body, are currently opposed to an attack because they believe a military strike will cause a massive backlash from Iran and its proxies and should only be a very last resort. The motives of Netanyahu and Barak are more personal and historical than ideological. The prime minister, the son of a historian, views the Iranian issue through the prism of Jewish survival. In his view, safeguarding Israel against a nuclear threat is the generation’s duty, which has fallen to him. As leader of the opposition, from 2006 to 2009, Netanyahu constantly compared Iran to Germany circa 1938 and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler. As prime minister, he has refrained from this terminology but his perspective remains unchanged.

U.S. and Israel Split on Speed of Iran Threat [NYT]
Related: Will They? [Tablet Magazine]
Can They?
Earlier: The Iranian Tipping Point Approaches

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What to make of the following from Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei’s strategist, “Iran must attack Israel by 2014?”

If Israel waits for a first strike, it will probably be the capital city, or Israel’s own nuclear site, both should be moved.


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How Immediate is Iran’s Nuclear Threat?

U.S. and Israeli officials disagree over timeline, responses

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