Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'Israel attack on Iran could hurt US'

19 July 09

Amid reports that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is heading to Israel next week for talks on Teheran's nuclear program, a senior US defense official has told The Jerusalem Post that an Israeli strike on Iran could be profoundly destabilizing and would affect US interests. Israel needed to take its relationship with America into account in contemplating any such attack, he warned. (How destabilizing would an attack on Israel by Iran be to U.S. interests? Does anyone remember what the issue is with Iran's nuclear development program?)

Gates, who last week described the Islamic republic's nuclear drive as the greatest current threat to global security, is set to spend six hours here next Monday, discussing the Iranian threat with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He will also visit Jordan, according to officials involved in planning the trip.

In his interview with the Post at the Pentagon, the senior US defense official also suggested that Syria might be ready to "fundamentally" reorient its position toward the United States, which would include restarting talks with Israel, at a time when Hamas and Hizbullah have been put "on the defensive" by Obama administration policies and events in Iran. (To tell you the truth, I thought they were laughing hysterically)

Those events, said the official, who insisted on anonymity, hadn't been seen to affect Iran's timeline on developing nuclear weapons. What was clear, he indicated, was the negative effect an Israeli strike would have.

"A unilateral third-party attack on Iran's nuclear program could have profoundly destabilizing consequences, and it wouldn't just affect the general level of stability in the region. It would affect Israel's security (restore deterrence?) and it would affect our interests, and the safety of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere," the official said, when asked if the US expected Israel to inform it of any decision to strike Iran. "It's a pretty big deal, and given the closeness of our relationship with Israel, I think we would hope that they would take those strategic calculations into account." (If it should occur to anyone who talks to Mr. Gates, our priority is to safeguard the interests and lives of our people. After that, to take into consideration his concerns. If appropriate.)
(To continue)

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