Have Israel’s efforts to convince the US to threaten Iran with a credible military option paid off? According to recent media reports, the answer might be yes.
Since the US pushed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran through the UN Security Council last month, Jerusalem has increased diplomatic efforts to convince the White House that for the sanctions to work, a credible military option needs to be on the table to scare Iran to reconsider its pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
An indication that this might have happened came in the latest issue of Time magazine, in an article titled “An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table.”
Written by Joe Klein, the article claims that in recent months, the US military’s Central Command has made significant progress in planning targeted air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, some of which were deemed impossible to penetrate just two years ago.
According to the report, the progress was made possible by the “vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region.”
Israel has reportedly been “brought into the planning process.”
Israel’s current strategy regarding Iran is to cooperate with the White House and at the same time to continue preparing its own independent military option. This dates back to the beginning of Barack Obama’s term as president in January 2009, when Israel warned against engaging the Iranians but eventually acceded to the new US policy, albeit while demanding that the talks be limited in time.
When the talks failed and Obama moved to the sanction track, Jerusalem again said it was in favor of sanctions but that they needed to be tough and crack down on the energy sector.
Now that the latest round of sanctions have been approved, Israel has been calling for the US and the international community to threaten Iran with a credible military option.
“Without this, the sanctions will likely not work,” a senior defense official said.
This issue was one of the main topics of discussion between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Obama in Washington earlier this month. Netanyahu also discussed the Iranian nuclear threat with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Part of Israel’s argument is Iran’s decision to suspend its enrichment of uranium and its nuclear weapons program in 2003, after the US invaded Iraq. Then, the Iranians feared that they were next in line, and as a result they decided to comply with the international community’s demands.
“Since then, the military threat has basically disappeared,” the official said. “For diplomacy and sanctions to work, there needs to be a real military option.”