Analysts Believe Israel is Moving Closer to Iran Strike

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Haaretz is reporting a new diplomatic initiative by Israel to convince Western countries to increase sanctions on Iran. The work comes ahead of an IAEA report to be released on November 8, which is expected to detail the scope of Iran's nuclear program and submit evidence that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear bomb:

"The significant progress that has taken place on all the components of the Iranian nuclear program should be emphasized, especially uranium enrichment," said a classified cable sent to Israeli ambassadors in several dozen countries. "The Iranian program is military, and in light of International Atomic Energy Agency reports, there is an increased fear that the Iranians are developing a nuclear warhead for ballistic missiles." 

The ambassadors were asked to tell the equivalent of the foreign ministries and prime minister's offices in the countries where they are serving that there isn't much time left to stop the nuclear program through diplomatic means.

There are all sorts of signs afoot that this fall is a bit like the spring of 2010, in which it also seemed likely that Israel was moving toward a preemptive attack (I wrote about Israeli plans in this article). By late 2010, the successes (temporary, perhaps) of the Stuxnet virus in crippling a certain percentage of Iran's centrifuges seemed to cool off passions on this subject, but now we're back to worrying. Keep in mind one important thing: The clock the Israelis are watching is not the one telling them that Iran is close, or not-so-close, to actually constructing a nuclear warhead and a delivery system for such a warhead. The clock the Israelis care about is the one that will tell them when they've run out of time to take effective preemptive action against the Iranian program, which is to say, when the Iranians put their centrifuges so deeply underground that they become beyond the reach of Israeli bombers. This is the issue we should be watching.

Here's some bonus conspiracy material for those who enjoy such things: Last week it was announced that Prime Minister Netanyahu had canceled his scheduled appearance at the Jewish Federations' annual General Assembly in Denver this year, set to take place in the days immediately before the IAEA report comes out. The GA is currently ranked third as the world's most Netanyahu-friendly audience, just behind the United States Congress, and AIPAC. He doesn't usually like to miss such events.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/11/analysts-believe-israel-is-moving-closer-to-iran-strike/247666/