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Analysts Examine Chances of Israeli Strike Against Iran's Nuclear Program

  • Jennifer Glasse

Cover of 'The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America And The Rumors Of War'

Cover of 'The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America And The Rumors Of War'

As Iran prepares to meet with the the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, the U.S., China, the UK, France, plus Germany - on its controversial nuclear program, a new book explores the linkages between the Iran nuclear situation, Israel and the United States. Our reporter spoke to one of the authors and reports from London

Dana Allin is a fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies here in London. A new book he has co-authored, titled The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America And The Rumors Of War, says Iran's nuclear program is at the heart of America's sixth post Cold War crisis in the Middle East.

"The fundamental problem here is Iran's reckless march towards a nuclear capability, which is not to say we know for sure that Iran has decided to build nuclear weapons, but it has certainly decided to give itself the nuclear technology that would, you know, put it a short distance from that," said Allin.

Allin says U.S. President Barack Obama is faced with a dilemma; how to make progress on a settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians while also addressing Iran's nuclear program.

"The administration needs Israel to trust it on Iran but also needs to confront Israel on Palestine and this has become a highly politicized connection," he said.

Analyst Barak Seener with London's Royal United Services Institute, believes Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran's fledgling nuclear program.

"The United States is geared toward diplomacy, while the Israel is geared towards a military strike because Israel does not believe that sanctions have any teeth," said Seener.

Allin is not so sure an Israeli strike is inevitable.

"Sometimes the most difficult intelligence targets are your closest allies," said Allin. "I mean no one really knows what Israel is going to do about this. Israel itself probably doesn't know. The Israeli leaders themselves probably don't know."

Israelis, he says, are divided.

"Some say impossible, Israel would not do it without an American green light, others say if Prime Minister Netanyahu really felt it was his historical duty to deal with this problem, he would do it no matter what the Americans said," informed Allin.

Allin says it may be a couple of years before Iran can produce a nuclear weapon. Seener says Iran has definitely passed a nuclear threshold that will allow it to have weapons. When Israel might act is less clear he says.

"I don't think anybody, I don't even think Israel's prime minister can identify timing," he said. "I think that they just identify that they're on a trajectory.

Allin is not sure that trajectory is a military one, and says even the United States doesn't know.

Iran's foreign minister says his country has agreed to talks with the five countries in the UN Security Council, Russia, the USA, China, the UK, and France, known as the P5 plus Germany. Seener says it's a stalling tactic.

"This is Iran's attempt once again to play the international community at P5 +1 and Israel sees right through it, the question is, does the United States," said Seener. "At this stage Israel may not even care for that response because it might go it alone."

Analysts say the consequences of an Israeli military strike on Iran are likely to include a rise in oil prices and retaliatory attacks on Israel by Iran's proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, as well as attacks on US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.