Israel’s intensifying readiness to launch a military strike against Iran has met with a negative US response, with top government officials being dispatched to the Jewish state in the attempt to thwart an attack.
US President Barack Obama, who has made the US position against an attack on Iran known through Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as well as through private phone conversations to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is now sending chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey to Israel to discourage the Jewish state from taking unilateral actions. Dempsey will be in Tel Aviv next week, where he will meet with Israeli military officials including Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz . Dempsey will attempt to convince officials that US-imposed sanctions are sufficient to protect against an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel.
Despite a growing number and degree of international sanctions, Iran has remained seemingly undeterred in its quest for nuclear capability, warning Arab states not to take part in a drive to stop Iran’s atomic development, chastising nations which have taken steps to punish the country, and relocating enrichment facilities to hidden underground locations. It has also threatened to block oil transports through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Now, all heads are turned toward Israel, which has stated in the past that it will take necessary measures to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, steps which it sees as potentially unavoidable for protecting the continued existence of the country. “It is the policy of the Israeli government, and the Obama administration, that all options remain on the table. And it is crucial that the ayatollahs in Tehran take this policy seriously,” said Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.
As Iran has continued its nuclear development, an increasingly heated war of words has ensued between Israel and Iran, with Iranian officials daring Israel to attack “if the Zionists like to sit on wheelchairs”, and Israel stating that ramped up threats against it make a strike against Iran “more and more likely”.
For its part, the US military is preparing for repercussions to its operations in the Middle East as a result of an Israeli strike on Iran. Of particular concern to the US are its various embassies and diplomatic outposts, with a staff of 15,000.
Israel and the US have planned a coordinated massive missile defense drill for later this year, called “Austere Challenge”.