Risk of Israel’s strike on Iran is not greater than ever

Risk of Israel’s strike on Iran is not greater than ever

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 4 /Trend T.Konyayeva/

The Israeli threats of a military attack on Iran raise concerns of the international community, but the risk of such a strike is no greater than in the recent few months, Peter Crail, a nonproliferation analyst at the Washington D.C.-based Arms Control Association, believes.

"The talk about an attack is worrisome because the consequences of military action would be severe for the region, including Israel, and it would not be able to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran," Crail wrote Trend in an email. "It would delay it at best. But I don't think the risk of a military strike is any greater than it has been in the last several months because that calculus has not changed."

Some Israeli media reports earlier this week quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as warning that a military strike on Iran was an option.

The Israeli top officials' statements came on the eve of publication of the IAEA report, which is expected detail the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.

Shortly after the statements, Israel has successfully test-fired a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran.

Crail thinks that the risks are still great and the potential gains are still minimal, and Israel realizes that.

"Israel intends to signal to Iran that the possibility of military action is still present, and that is something Iran has to take into account. And the intention is also to signal to the international community that if something isn't done to address Iran's nuclear program, particularly following an upcoming IAEA report on Iran's warhead development work, then Israel may take a drastic action itself," he said.

To prevent such a step from being taken, two things need to be stressed, the expert believes.

"For one, countries do need to take the risks of a nuclear-armed Iran seriously and work to strengthen the existing sanctions to cut Iran off from the materials it needs for nuclear weapons. Countries also need to pressure Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA about the full range of its nuclear activities, including the warhead work it has carried out," Crail said.

Iranian nuclear program has caused international concern since the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

As to the second thing to be stressed, Crail believes that it is important that military leaders, especially in Israel, continue to highlight the risks of military strikes and discredit the misguided notion that air-strikes would resolve the problem.

"No one wants another war in the region and the risk of starting one needs to be underscored," he stressed.

Crail recalled a statement by former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, who had previously stated that a strike against Iran was "a foolish idea" and warned against the disastrous consequences that would follow such a step - an all out regional war.

Meanwhile, a new Haaretz-Dialog polling report published by the Haaretz on Thursday has shown that Israelis are almost evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran's nuclear facilities, with 41 percent supporting such a strike and 39 percent opposed. The remaining 20 percent said they were undecided. The poll has reportedly queried both Jewish and Arab respondents.

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