(AsiaNews) - Reports of an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities have become
more insistent in the past few days. The cut-off time would be November, when
the United States holds its elections.
For years, Israel has accused the international
community of doing nothing to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability. Iran
insists that it has the right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme, but has
failed to submit to the stringent checks of the UN's International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA).
Today, in a statement quoted in the New York Times, former Mossad chief and
national security adviser Ephraim Halevy said that if he were Iranian he
"would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks," i.e. the period leading up
to the US presidential election in November.
It is no coincidence that US Defence Secretary Leon
Panetta and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were in Jerusalem in
Both reassured Israel that the United States shared
its concerns over Iran's nuclear programme. However, Panetta was more open to a
diplomatic solution without excluding military action.
Coinciding with the Defence secretary's visit to
Israel, US President Barack Obama ordered new sanctions on Iran's oil exports
and financial transactions.
This has not satisfied Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu (pictured) who reminded
Panetta that "a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act." For
the Israeli leader, nothing has "yet convinced the Iranians to stop their
For the prime minister, Israel could destroy Iran's
nuclear facilities on its own. "With our
very existence, we do not put our faith in the hands of others, even our best
of friends," he said.
In fact, Netanyahu's bluster is but political
blackmail. Intelligence sources do not believe Israel has the capability to do
much damage to Iranian nuclear facilities, which are buried 100 metres below
ground, far from the reach of any existing bunker busting bomb.
The blackmail lies in pitting Obama (and Panetta)
against Mitt Romney. The Republic hopeful skewered the Obama administration for
not being supportive enough of Israel, insisting that "any and all measures"
must be used to stop Tehran.
This amounts to an appeal to the staunchly pro-Israel
Jewish and evangelical voters in America to cast their ballot for Romney if
Obama does not act.
show that US Jews and Evangelical Christians constitute some 20 million votes. Obama
won 78 per cent of the Jewish vote in the 2008 election but a nationwide Gallup
poll in June showed him down to 64 per cent.
Viewed as a liberal, Obama is backed by young pacifist
voters, who are now starting to see him as just another Bush for delaying troop
withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan or failing to shut down Guantanamo.
From Obama's perspective, the best time to attack
would be after the election. In Israel, the debate over a possible attack
against Iran has been openly debated for months.
Top military and intelligence officials have expressed
their opposition to an attack because it would threaten Israel's survival since
Iran already has missiles that can reach Israel.
Civilian leaders appear more willing to attack, as
they present themselves as saviours of the nation, perhaps to hide the fact
that they are unable to bring political solutions to the country's serious
economic and social problems.