Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has staked out a hawkish position on Iran. The PM has warned that world-powers who just completed a round of nuclear negotiations with Iran in Istanbul could be falling into “a trap” if they continue to pursue diplomacy with Tehran.
But while both Obama and Netanyahu have kept all options — including the military one — on the table, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor publicly warned today that an attack on Iran could prove damaging to Israeli security interests. Meridor spoke with Metro International’s Elisabeth Braw at the Israeli embassy in London:
ELISABETH BRAW: What about ending it with a military strike?
DAN MERIDOR: That option was recently mentioned by President Obama in a positive way. He said he ruled in this possibility. It’s possible that we have to use force. All this pressure should persuade Iran to end its nuclear program. But I don’t think Israel should use the military option. I don’t agree with some of my colleagues who support a military strike. An attack on Iran wouldn’t add anything to our security.
The Deputy PM’s views closely match those expressed by former Israeli spy agency Chief Meir Dagan last month. Dagan warned that bombing Iran would “ignite, at least from my point of view, a regional war,” and that no military attack would be able to permanently halt the Iranian nuclear project. The opinion that military action won’t be able to stop Iran’s nuclear program is shared by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Meridor went on to emphasize that a military strike on Iran would be nothing like the Six-Day War, a comparison occasionally floated by Iran hawks, and emphasized that Iran might be persuaded, through rational self-interest, to accept a diplomatic solution to the standoff over their nuclear program:
In the past, at least once or twice, the Iranians took to reason. For example, when [Ayatollah] Khomeini stopped the war with Iraq, he did so with a very illuminating statement that hade nothing to do with God but with a practical approach: “we can’t afford this war.” I hope the Iranians will engage in this kind of thinking again.
Top U.S. officials and the IAEA agree that Iran is making progress on its nuclear capabilities and warn that some of their activities may have a military dimension. But the IAEA, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran has not yet made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon.