Israel under international pressure not to attack Iran alone

Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:25pm IST

Related Topics

* U.S. does not want to be "complicit" in any attack

* Israel's prime minister clashes with U.S. envoy - media

* Germany's Merkel urges caution, Haaretz newspaper reports

By Crispian Balmer

JERUSALEM, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Israel is facing growing international pressure not to attack Iran unilaterally, with the United States in particular making clear its firm opposition to any such strike.

Recent rhetoric by Israeli leaders that time is running out to halt Iran's contested nuclear programme has raised concern that military action might be imminent, despite repeated calls from abroad to give sanctions and diplomacy more time to work.

The U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has always cautioned against a go-it-alone approach, but he appeared to up the ante this week by saying Washington did not want to be blamed for any Israeli initiative.

"I don't want to be complicit if they (Israel) choose to do it," Dempsey was quoted as saying by Britain's Guardian newspaper on Friday, suggesting that he would view an Israeli attack as reprehensible or illegal.

He went on to repeat that although Israel could delay Iran's nuclear project, it would not destroy it. He said that unilateral action might unravel a strong international coalition that has applied progressively stiff sanctions on Iran.

"(This) could be undone if (Iran) was attacked prematurely," he was quoted as saying.

While Tehran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, Western powers believe it is trying to produce an atomic bomb. Israel, believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence.

Adding to the sense of urgency, the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday Iran had doubled the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges in an underground bunker, showing its desire to expand its nuclear work.


Israel's vice prime minister Moshe Yaalon said on Friday he feared Iran did not believe it faced a real military threat from the outside world because of mixed messages from foreign powers.

"We have an exchange of views, including with our friends in the United States, who in our opinion, are in part responsible for this feeling in Iran," he told Israel's 100FM radio station.

"There are many cracks in the ring closing tighter on Iran. We criticise this," he said, also singling out U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for travelling to Tehran this week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will speak out about the dangers of Iran in an address next month to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

He is also expected to hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit. A senior Israeli official told Reuters this month that Netanyahu would be looking for a firm pledge of U.S. military action if Iran does not back down.

However, the meeting might well be icy.

Israel's top-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday that there had been an "unprecedented" and "angry" exchange between Netanyahu and the U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv earlier this month over Iran.

Quoting a source who was present at the meeting, Netanyahu had criticised Obama for not doing enough to tackle Iran. The U.S. ambassador Daniel Shapiro took exception and accused the prime minister of distorting Obama's position.

The prime minister's office declined to comment on the report and there was no initial response from the U.S. embassy.

Adding to the growing chorus of concern facing Netanyahu, Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had delivered a "harsh message" to Netanyahu 10 days ago, telling him to hold off on any attack plans.

The German embassy in Tel Aviv declined comment.

Israeli officials have repeatedly said that a growing array of sanctions against Iran are not having any impact on the Tehran leadership and believe they will only back down in the face of a credible threat of military action.

However, Netanyahu faces an uphill task persuading his own military and inner circle of the wisdom of a unilateral strike. Political sources told Reuters on Tuesday an ultra-orthodox party in his coalition was opposed to war.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (2)
zer0sum wrote:
The stupidest thing about this concerted push by Israel to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons is not the hypocrisy given that Israel already have nuclear weapons of their own, not even that they actually expect us to believe that Iran doesn’t already possess nuclear weapons, not even that we are expected to believe that an attack on Iran would not trigger an all out nuclear war… The stupidest thing about the whole situation is that every major city in the world already has nuclear bombs sitting in basements of nondescript buildings which could be triggered at any moment. They want us to be scared of the possibility of Iran building a new weapon and support their ridiculous and comically insane agenda to create World War III when the real weapons are already built and ready to go off at anytime. Do they really think they would not be instantly vaporised in Tel Aviv if they even try to go down that path? There are literally mega tonnes of these things all across the globe… Let alone all the weapons systems in Russia, China, Pakistan, India would be unable to determine the difference between an attack on Iran and their own sovereign lands…

Aug 31, 2012 5:02pm IST  --  Report as abuse
SeanOMaoildeirg wrote:
Netanyahu views an Israeli attack on Iran as his greatest trump card in his bid to lead the next government in 2013. He figures he can force US soldiers to give their lives for Israel, in spite of continuously giving the finger to the US president.

Aug 31, 2012 9:52pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared