West pressures Israel over Iran
LONDON / JERUSALEM
US President Obama (L) says diplomacy is still a solution for Iran’s nuke program.Israel is facing growing international pressure not to unilaterally attack Iran, with Washington reiterating its firm opposition to any such strike and by Germany’s head of government calling on her Israeli counterpart to hold off on any attack plans.
The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has always cautioned against a go-it-alone approach, but he appeared to up the ante this week by saying Washington did not want to be blamed for any Israeli initiative.
“I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it,” Dempsey was quoted as saying by Britain’s Guardian daily on Aug. 31, suggesting that he would view an Israeli attack as reprehensible or illegal. Although Israel could delay Iran’s nuclear project, it would not be able to destroy it, he said, adding that unilateral action might cause a strong international coalition that has applied progressively stiff sanctions on Iran to unravel. “[This coalition] could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely,” he was quoted as saying. Adding to the sense of urgency, the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had doubled the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges in its underground Fordo nuclear facility. The report added to criticism of Iran’s nuclear stand by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon at a two-day Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran. Israel’s deputy prime minister, Moshe Yaalon, said Aug. 31 that he feared Iran did not believe it faced a real military threat from the outside world because of mixed messages from foreign powers.
“There are many cracks in the ring closing tighter on Iran. We criticize this,” he said, also singling out Ban for traveling to Tehran this week.
Adding to the growing chorus of concern facing Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly delivered a “harsh message” to Netanyahu 10 days ago, telling him to hold off on any attack plans, according to daily Haaretz.
Merkel expressed her worries about the consequences of such an attack, not just on stability in the Middle East but also for the EU. She said harsh sanctions against Iran have made it very difficult for the Iranian government and said the sanctions should be strengthened and given more time to work.