The U.S. intelligence community is convinced that the Israeli administration has decided to launch an attack on Iran, over the Islamic state's nuclear weapons ambition, an Israeli news channel reported Monday.
Quoting an unnamed U.S. intelligence official, Israeli television broadcaster Channel 2 has reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu and top officials have decided to go ahead with the military plans unless there is a significant change in Iran's stance in the next few weeks or months.
However, Israeli officials close to Netanyahu have dismissed the report, calling it a U.S. attempt to "scare" Israelis from contemplating an attack on Iran. "The comments should be taken with a grain of salt," Israeli officials have reportedly said.
Netanyahu, in his address to the chief American-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Monday said that Israel could not afford to wait any longer to see if the international sanctions had the desired effect on Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Though Netanyahu acknowledged the American support to Israel, he gave away hints that the Jewish state wouldn't hesitate to strike Iran without direct support from Washington.
However, he left enough room for speculation by stating that Israel would "leave all options on the table," which clearly meant military action was only one among all the options.
According to the Channel 2 report, Tel Aviv and Washington have no consensus regarding the Iran situation, with the Obama administration warning that an Israeli strike will trigger a Middle East crisis and perhaps even another World War. The U.S. apparently fears a collective Arab world strike against Israel, and by default against the U.S., which could lead to extremely detrimental consequences. "It's tantamount to suicide," the official was quoted as saying.
In a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the existing hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess had warned the Obama administration against launching a military attack on Iran.
"Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons. While international pressure against Iran has increased, including through sanctions, we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandon its nuclear program," Burgess said.
"Iran can close the Strait of Hormuz at least temporarily, and may launch missiles against United States forces and our allies in the region if it is attacked," Burgess explained.
"Iran could also attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide. However, the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict. Iranian ballistic missiles in development could range across the region and Central Europe," he said.
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