Amid escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, Paul Rogers analyzes the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran and its global implications.
The voices in Washington calling for a military strike on Iranian nuclear plants are growing in number and strength. The cautious attitude of the Barack Obama administration itself in relation to such a course means that direct military action by the United States itself remains on balance unlikely (see Joe Klein, "An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table", Time, 15 July 2010). But current trends in the middle east suggest that the prospect of Israeli action against Iran in the next few months is coming closer (see "Israel vs Iran: the risk of war", 11 June 2010).
These include oft-repeated reports that Iran is rearming Hizbollah in southern Lebanon, and that Syria is supplying Hizbollah with some of its Iranian-made M-600 ballistic-missiles. The M-600 is a solid-fuel missile with a range stretching over much of Israel - a much more potent weapon than those fired in the Israel-Lebanon war of July-August 2006 (see Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, “The Hizbollah project: last war, next war”, 13 August 2009)
Israel's current concern over a resumption of conflict with Hizbollah, however, is overshadowed by its analysis of the benefits, costs and consequences of an attempt to strike a decisive blow against Iran. Binyamin Netanyahu, concluding his visit to the United States with an interview on Fox News, described Iran as “the ultimate terrorist threat” and said that for Iran to think it can maintain its nuclear ambitions would be a mistake.