Iran has agreed to allow international nuclear inspectors to view its recently revealed uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom, and President Obama has called talks between U.S. diplomats and their Iranian counterparts about the country's nuclear program a "constructive beginning."
However, recent events and heated rhetoric concerning Iran's nuclear program are reminiscent of the final days that lead to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the United Nations Security Council on February 5th of that year with what he called "solid" evidence that showed Iraq had still not complied with resolutions calling for it to disarm and was maintaining a secret WMD program. It seems that history is repeating itself.
Unlike what happened to Iraq in 2003, an invasion of Iran is not on the horizon; however, the prospect of targeting its nuclear facilities is more real than ever. More so than during the Bush Administration. The reason is simple: no amount of pressure or sanctions will force Iran to abandon what it perceives as its "unalienable right" to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
In an article in June, I outlined the drive behind Iran's nuclear ambition, and this has not changed. But most importantly the Obama Administration, although pursuing diplomatic means, seems to be convinced that the Iranians are conducting a clandestine nuclear program parallel to the public one. The aim of this, though of course not admitted by the Iranians, is clearly the acquisition of nuclear weapons. This position is shared by Israel, which will most likely get the green light to attack Iran's nuclear facilities by spring of 2010 when all negotiations with Iran will have hit a dead end.
Since April of this year, the Israeli military has been preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities. The United States and Israel have recently conducted their most complex military exercise ever, jointly testing three ballistic missile defense systems. Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.
The Israeli Air Force has recently been conducting training exercises involving F15 and F16 jets, helicopters and refueling tankers flying to distances of more than 870 miles: the distance between Israel and Iran. Among recent preparations by the air force was the Israeli attack of a weapons convoy in Sudan allegedly bound for militants in the Gaza Strip.
A recent article in the British Daily Express reported that Israeli fighter jets have been allowed to use Saudi airspace to launch go-it-alone air strikes on Iranian nuclear installations. The issue has been discussed in a closed-door meeting in London, where British Intelligence Chief Sir John Scarlett, his Israeli counterpart Meir Dagan, and a Saudi official were present. According to the report, Scarlett has been told that Saudi airspace would be at Israel's disposal should Tel Aviv decide to move forward with his military plans against Iran. The Saudis have denied such claims; however, for the past few weeks Saudi-sponsored media has been raising concern over the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. No mention of Israel's 200 plus nuclear warheads.
A survey just released by the American Jewish Committee reports that for the first time ever, a majority of American Jews support using military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Fifty-six percent of American Jews think U.S. should strike Iran, while sixty-six percent of Israeli Jews back such an attack.
How many Americans support an attack on Iran?
Fifty-seven percent of American voters say Israel would be justified in attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, given that Iran has publicly threatened to annihilate Israel, according to a McLaughlin poll conducted on May 8-9.
I am not being an alarmist, but the writing is on the wall.