Last week, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess told a Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran will not start the war in the Middle East, unless, of course, the US acts first. However, Burgess added that, despite increased sanctions imposed by the US and a buildup of American military forces surrounding the country, Iran is unlikely to halt its nuclear weapons program.
“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 said at the Senate committee hearing. “Iran could also attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide. However, the agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”
It appears that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not sharing the Americans’ optimism, and may very well be planning a clash with Iran before the US makes up its mind.
In late January, Israeli and American officials mysteriously sheleved plans for a joint missile exercise, the largest of its kind, in Israel. The exercise, originally slated for this spring, was rescheduled for October of 2012.
The drill will involve a surge of American troops to Israel by the thousands, marking the biggest test of its type for both nations. As tensions worsen between Israel and its unfriendly neighbor, Iranian authorities fear that the exercise will test out more than just the missile capabilities of the two allies.
But at this point it isn’t at all clear whether Netanyahu is prepared to wait until October.