News / Middle East

Analysts: Iran’s Nuclear Program Could Provoke War

Meredith Buel

The Obama administration is talking with Israeli officials and monitoring developments about a possible Israeli attack on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.  Reports say U.S. officials are hoping Israel will give Western sanctions against Iran more time to take effect before resorting to an attack.

Will Israel use its military aircraft to attack Iran?  The Jewish state considers Iran’s nuclear program a threat.  So does the United States.

“Let there be no doubt - America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  And I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal,” said President Obama.

Analysts say Iran could have enough enriched uranium to build an atomic bomb within a year.  Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but recently announced it is enriching uranium at an underground plant.

And Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's views of Israel are clear:

“The Zionist regime is truly a cancerous tumor in this region that should be removed and will be removed,” he said.

Israel is concerned that soon it might be too late to stop Tehran from building a nuclear weapon.

“Regrettably, I think that conflict is in the air - conflict triggered by Iran’s adamant refusal to accede to the wishes of every country in the world,” said Robert Satloff, Executive Director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Satloff says the United States, with aircraft carriers positioned near the Persian Gulf, would likely be involved in any military conflict with Iran.

“Our ironclad commitment, and I mean ironclad, to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history,” said President Obama.

The United States has supplied Israel with bunker-busting bombs, designed to destroy deep underground targets, like Iran's uranium enrichment facilities.

But the United States and its Western allies hope that tough new sanctions on Iranian banks and the country’s oil industry will deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran's Supreme Leader says Tehran will not back down. “Well, this threat of war is not in the United States' favor.  The actual war will be ten times not in the United States' favor,” Khamenei said.

Iran has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.  And it has threatened to use them.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says his country is not willing to wait long for Iran to end it's nuclear ambitions.

“Today, unlike the past, there is a wide understanding in the world that if the sanctions will not achieve the desired goal of stopping the military nuclear program, there will be a need to consider taking action,” Barak said.

According to news reports, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Israel could attack Iran within the next few months.  Meanwhile, U.S. media report that Israel and the United States are trying to reconcile differences over how much time to give Iran to comply with international demands to end its nuclear program.

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