Last week, Israel’s national security adviser, Uzi Arad, met with his American counterparts in a meeting of a special working group on Iran. The Washington Times first reported the formation of such a working group in May when Mr. Netanyahu met with Mr. Obama at the White House.
Iran has not responded to U.S. overtures for talks, and the Obama administration has offered few specifics about the consequences to Iran if the U.S. offer is spurned.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said there would be “crippling sanctions” but has offered no details. Mr. Obama told Mr. Netanyahu that he would assess the diplomatic-engagement strategy at the end of the calendar year. Reports in the Israeli press over the weekend predicted that the White House will not press for new international sanctions this week at a meeting in Italy of the Group of Eight industrialized nations.
David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that “while Israel is the only country existentially threatened by Iran, it understands that American interests are impacted. As such, I don’t think Israel would attack Iran out of the blue.”
Mr. Makovsky is the co-author of “Myths, Illusions and Peace,” with Dennis Ross, now a senior U.S. policymaker on Iran and the broader Middle East at the White House National Security Council.
Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said that if Israel were to give the United States advance notice of its intention to strike Iran, it would be risking a “red light.”
“That could force the president to choose Israel’s security over his desired rapprochement with Iran. An ugly and dangerous outcome for all concerned,” she said.
Iran’s nuclear program is dispersed, and parts of it may be hidden, making it difficult for Israel or the United States to destroy all the installations. In addition, a strike could provoke Iranian retaliation against both Israeli and U.S. targets, including U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran might also attack Arab oil installations or U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that a U.S. strike on Iran would be “very destabilizing,” as would a nuclear Iran.
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