Tags: israel | iran | attack

U.S. Official: Israel Shouldn't Attack Iran

Tuesday, 21 Jul 2009 01:48 PM

By Dan Weil

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Israel shouldn’t attack Iran, because that could worsen turmoil in the Mideast and harm U.S. interests, a senior U.S. defense official tells The Jerusalem Post.

U.S. officials have offered mixed views on that issue in recent months. It becomes more relevant as Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Israel next week to discuss Iran’s nuclear threat. Gates has called that threat the greatest existing to global security.

Speaking at the Pentagon, the U.S. official told The Post that as conditions now stand, Syria might be willing to "fundamentally" change its position toward the United States.

That would mean a resumption of peace talks with Israel, at a time when Hamas and Hezbollah, which include terrorist elements, have been put "on the defensive" by Obama administration policies and events in Iran, the official said.

An Israeli strike would threaten that progress, the official maintains.

"A unilateral third-party attack on Iran's nuclear program could have profoundly destabilizing consequences, and it wouldn't just affect the general level of stability in the region. It would affect Israel's security and it would affect our interests, and the safety of our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere," the official said.

While Gates has voiced strong opposition to an Israeli attack against Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden said July 5 that "Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else."

A few days later, Obama said on CNN that that he had "absolutely not" given Israel license to strike Iran.

There is a chance that Iran’s nuclear policy could take care of itself if the current government is replaced by a more democratic, secular one.

And opposition to the current regime is mounting. On Sunday, Iran’s reformist former president Mohammad Khatami urged a referendum on the government’s legitimacy. There is strong evidence the government cheated to win the June election.

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