The clock may be running out on Israel’s patience with Iran’s nuclear program, which the Jewish state sees – quite reasonably – as an existential threat:
Israeli leaders on Thursday delivered one of the bluntest warnings to date of possible airstrikes against Iranian nuclear sites, adding to the anxiety in Western capitals that a surprise attack by Israel could spark a broader military conflict in the Middle East.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at a security forum attended by some of Israel’s top intelligence and military leaders, declared that time was running out for stopping Iran’s nuclear advance, as the country’s uranium facilities disappear into newly constructed mountain bunkers.
“Whoever says ‘later’ may find that later is too late,” Barak said. He switched from Hebrew to English for the last phrase: “later is too late.”
The language reflected a deepening rift between Israeli and U.S. officials over the urgency of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, which Western intelligence officials and nuclear experts say could soon put nuclear weapons within the reach of Iran’s rulers.
If the mullahs are aware of the impending threat, they are steadfastly showing every pretension to ignorance:
Iran denied United Nations inspectors access to a suspected nuclear site, scientists and documents during a visit to Tehran this week, dimming already scant hopes for a breakthrough to end a standoff over Iran’s nuclear work, according to diplomats briefed on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s mission.
The IAEA said it will return a senior-level team to Iran later this month to try and build on three days of discussions that were held with senior Iranian officials, which ended Tuesday.
But U.S. and European officials are already voicing concerns that Tehran is seeking to use the dialogue to divide the international community and stave off additional financial penalties that are being crafted in Washington and the European Union.
Some have decried America’s hyper-power dominance during the post-Cold War era. But I should think that we’ll see more of this sort of thing rather than less, as we withdraw from world and leave other actors to calculate their self-interest without our thumb on the scale. And despite the increased degree of globalization since the Berlin Wall came down, it would be nice to believe that we won’t somehow get dragged into the maelstrom with them.
But there are lots of things which are nice to believe, that are probably untrue.