”˜Panetta believes Israel will attack Iran this spring'

US secretary of defense is concerned Israel will launch an attack before Iran enters so-called “immunity zone” when military strike won’t bust Iran’s nuclear facilities, ‘Washington Post’ reports.

United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta believes that Israel will attack Iran in April, May or June, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

According to the report, written by the paper’s senior opinion writer David Ignatius, Panetta is concerned that Israel will launch an attack before Iran enters the so-called ”œimmunity zone” when its nuclear facilities will be heavily fortified and a military strike will no longer succeed.

Ignatius does not quote Panetta in the article but he is currently traveling with the secretary of defense in Brussels.

According to the article, Israel might decide to strike before Iran completes the fortification since afterward only America will be capable of stopping Iran militarily.

”œIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action,” Ignatius wrote. According to the report, Israel’s strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities could last five days which would be followed by a United Nations-brokered ceasefire.

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  • According to Kim Sengupta in the UK’s Independent, the Israeli military are just as leary of the consequences of an Iran strike as the US military appear to be.

    Almost the entire senior hierarchy of Israel’s military and security establishment is worried about a premature attack on Iran and apprehensive about the possible repercussions, a former chief of the country’s defence forces told The Independent yesterday.

    Lt-Gen Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who is close to Defence Minister Ehud Barak, said there had been little analysis of what happens the “day after” when the Tehran regime and its paramilitary allies retaliate. He warned that an assault may lead to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad benefiting from popular anger against foreign aggression.

    General Lipkin-Shahak stressed that Iran with a nuclear arsenal would be a hugely destabilising factor in the region. But, he said: “It is quite clear that much if not all of the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] leadership do not support military action at this point.”

    (Bold emphasis is mine)

    All hypotheticals aside, I am sticking to my statements that most of the saber-rattling is a (dumb, possibly back-firing) ploy to force Iran to the negotiating table.

  • I hope you’re right, and if Obama and his admin are really as into eleven dimensional chess as many would make out then rattling Israel’s chain is a really subtle and sly ploy.

  • The ploy theme would make sense if we actually wanted to negotiate something. Our oft-stated desire for regime change clearly obviates any legitimate desire to negotiate.

  • U.S. officials concerned by Israel statements on Iran threat, possible strike

    Washington Post, By Joel Greenberg and Joby Warrick, February 2

    JERUSALEM — 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.

    Although accepting the gravity of the Iranian threat, U.S. officials fear being blindsided by an Israeli strike that could have widespread economic and security implications and might only delay, not end, Iran’s nuclear pursuits.

    And unleash wider conflict?

  • …desire for regime change, but the behaviour of the USG in terms of negotiation made it very clear that regime change was not a specific objective. They definitely would not have shed any tears, but it was not a requirement. The paramount concern with regime survival has, to the contrary, been a limiting factor from the Iranian perspective.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • As James Joyner likes to remind me, “policy is what gets funded”. And what has been funded in this case is overwhelmingly a harsh sanctions program and preparation for future containment in concert with well-armed regional allies.

  • This is something that has gotten away from the “official” negotiators on both sides. Congress is taking a much harsher tack than the administration natively would. There are substantial groups in Congress driving the sanctions who would explicitly seek regime change using that tool, the administration, not so much. That said, my read is that even inside the administration they’re not sure what else is still in the bag of options that could lead to real change, given that they view themselves as having run down the option tree.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Well, then, what is being funded seems much more compatible with a regime change portfolio then it is with a negotiating strategy concerned with nukes. This is why, as JPD notes, the Iranian regime acts as if that is what is at stake.

  • as Robert Wright at The Atlantic notes today, that Iran has good reasons to fear US intent towards regime change. There’s also the minor fact that a lot of good policy options on negotiation had already been 86-ed by the Bush administration, and I’d say that some elements of the Obama administration (cough Clinton cough ) have been more gung-ho about regime change than others. Still, I don’t see current policy as trending towards or intending regime change by military intervention.

  • The negotiation however, is about nothing at all because policy is about regime change. Military intervention is just one in a deck of cards to be played. Starvation through sanctions another. Israel another still. Dominance is the point. All hands on deck.

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