‘US, Israel discuss ‘triggers’ for Iran attack’

Rebecca Anna Stoil – Jerusalem Post January 29, 2011

Media reports on Wednesday suggested the Obama administration had developed red lines for determining when to strike militarily against Iran.

American news site The Daily Beast reported that in recent weeks, Washington had taken steps to reassure Israel “that the administration had its own ‘red lines’ that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally.

According to the website, remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this month that were perceived as tough on Israel triggered pressure on the Obama administration to clarify its stance on such military action.

The article also cited multiple US military sources claiming that “analysts attached to the Office of the Secretary of Defense are often revising estimates trying to predict what events in Iran would trigger Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to authorize a military attack on the country’s nuclear infrastructure.”

Most important, the report claimed, the upswing in high-level talks between Washington and Jerusalem in the past month has “prompted new conversations between the United States and Israel over what the triggers… would be to justify a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Complicating the dialogue, the report said, is that the countries fundamentally disagree on whether Iran is currently engaging in weaponization, or whether such production has remained frozen since 2003.

In response to inquiries by The Jerusalem Post, Pentagon spokesman George Little reiterated that “Secretary Panetta believes that diplomatic and economic pressure must be brought to bear against Iran to make it clear that the international community will not accept an Iran that possesses a nuclear weapon.”

Little also reiterated the administration’s position that “all options are on the table,” but added that “the military option remains a last resort.”

One of America’s “red-lines” became clearer on Wednesday, when the US responded sternly to Iranian threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow opening of the Persian Gulf through which much of the world’s oil supplies pass.

The Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet circulated an e-mail saying, “Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated.”

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