Instead of going to a full-scale war with Iran over its nuclear program Israel may be satisfied with a US-led operation, says Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Previously Tel Aviv was determined to resolve the issue on its own, if the US refuses to help.
Apparently after the Knesset election this month left the Netanyahu cabinet weakened, Israeli hawks are toning down their war drumming rhetoric. In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Barak said the Pentagon had prepared a surgical operation that can be used as a last-ditch measure to slow Iranian progress.
“I used to tell them [American friends], you know, when we are talking about surgical operations we think of a scalpel, you think of a chisel with a 10-pound hammer,” Barak joked as cited by The Daily Beast. But that’s not the case with the plan, he noted. “The Pentagon prepared quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels. So it is not an issue of a major war or a failure to block Iran. You could under a certain situation, if worse comes to worst, end up with a surgical operation.”
Such an operation “will delay [the Iranians] by a significant time frame and probably convince them that it won’t work because the world is determined to block them,” Barak said.
“We of course prefer that some morning we wake up and see that the Arab Spring was translated into Farsi and jumped over the Gulf to the streets of Tehran, but you cannot build a plan on it,” he added.
Israel’s right-wing government under PM Benjamin Netanyahu has been trumpeting war drums for months, saying it is prepared to do anything to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon and would launch an attack before its own window of opportunity closes. It called on its American allies to draw a red line after which a military action should follow. The pressure antagonized the Barack Obama administration, which refused to sign up for a new major conflict and called for non-military effort.
Tel-Aviv, Washington and some other countries believe that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon under the guise of its nuclear program. They want Tehran to shut down uranium enrichment facilities. Iran insists that it pursues strictly civilian goals with its nuclear industry, including production of fuel for nuclear reactors and radioactive isotopes for medical and research applications.
In a move aimed at dispersing international fears Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree banning nuclear weapons last year. The decree is binding for the Iranian government, Tehran stressed earlier this month ahead of a new round of international talks on the issue.
Earlier the US and Israel reportedly launched several clandestine operations against the Iranian nuclear program. Those include infecting Iranian industrial computer networks at enrichment facilities with a sophisticated virus, which damaged the sensitive equipment. There have also been several assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, which Tehran says were orchestrated by Israel.
The US also championed a set of strict economic sanctions against Iran, which crippled its oil exports.