IDF soldiers during Six Day War
One of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s deputies waved a big stick Friday:
“If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective,” Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
“Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable,” said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not address Mofaz’s comments directly but said that “all options must remain on the table” and said more could be done to put financial pressure on Tehran.
“Israel believes strongly that while the U.N. sanctions are positive, much more needs to be done to pressure the regime in Tehran to cease its aggressive nuclear program,” spokesman Mark Regev said.
I don’t think this should be considered an empty threat. Israel has been known to strike preemptively when the occasion arises and when it might involve nuclear wanna-bes.
Commentary magazine, which has previously promoted the American case for bombing Iran, was at it again in response:
Many assume that no Israeli government will let the Iranians build a nuclear arsenal, and Mofaz’s words — he also used “unavoidable” in the same sentence as “attacking Iran”– constitute the most explicit threat to use force to date. Because it looks unlikely that the Iranians will stop their program to enrich uranium, war in the Persian Gulf is becoming inevitable.
So this appears to be the last chance for the Bush administration to take the lead in stopping Iran. And it is perhaps the last chance for us to maintain the current international system.
Updated: I was out of town this weekend, so this story was a bit stale when I posted it. Here’s an update from the AP. Not surprisingly, the Israeli government has been downplaying Mofaz’s statement: