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The statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran is just six to seven months away from acquiring nuclear weapons is meant to pile pressure on the United States. The Israeli leader has been very restless and brimming with rage on the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons. First, he wanted to launch military strikes on Tehran’s nuclear facilities, arguing that Israel alone was responsible for its security and needed to act, unilaterally if the situation so demanded, to protect itself from its enemies. But that plan was abandoned after opposition from the US. President Barack Obama and several top leaders made it unequivocally clear to the Israeli leaders that an attack on Iran was the last thing it wanted when their country is in the midst of preparations for the presidential election.
The gap between Israel and US on Iran is said to be widening with the leaders in both countries having different ideas on how to tackle Iran. The US leaders, especially Barack Obama, deserve praise for refusing to toe the Israeli line and succumb to the pressure of the Israeli lobbies. That the president has taken a bold stance when he is seeking re-election is indeed commendable and shows his courage.
As Washington argues, sanctions against Iran must be given more time to work, and there are other ways of putting pressure on Tehran, like intensifying the sanctions. A military attack will plunge our region into chaos and the leaders and the people of this region will welcome any attempt to thwart a war. That the US leadership has followed the path of wisdom and common sense gives us hope that the Iranian issue will be settled without the use of force.
Iran too has been preparing its response for an attack. Talking to the media yesterday, the chief of the Revolutionary Guards said an attack will have serious consequences and that the US military bases in the Gulf countries are within the range of its missiles and will be targeted. Also, the Straits of Hormuz will come under fire, disrupting the oil supplies and triggering a crisis in the international energy market.
Washington has said all options against Iran, including military action, remain on the table, but officials reject the so-called ‘red lines’ as political grandstanding that will not produce favourable results and can even lead to a strategic disadvantage.
As Netanyahu said, time is a crucial factor, but it’s better to wait rather than embrace the folly of getting embroiled in another war.