The United States has been pressing Israel to refrain from attacking Iran’s nuclear program. General Martin Dempsey, the U.S. chief of staff, suggested earlier this week that, “I think that it’s a fair characterization to say that [Israel] could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”
But Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained yesterday that Israel would be willing to attack Iran’s nuclear program even if an attack would only serve to postpone and not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program: “One, two, three, four years are a long time in the Middle East — look what’s happened in the last year. In our neighborhood, those are the rules of the game.” Furthermore, the inability to completely eliminate Iran’s weapons program “is not an argument against [a strike]. In the past, we have operated on the assumption that we can only gain a delay.” Oren compared the current situation to Israel’s raid on Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak. In that situation, the calculation was that “[Israel] would gain a delay of between one and two years on that program. To this day, Iraq does not have a nuclear weapon.” Unless Iran abandons its drive towards nuclear weapons soon, there is a distinct possibility that there will be a new conflict in the Middle East.