On Thursday 2 February, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak threatened an Israeli missile attack on Iran soon.
He said he believed that Iran’s nuclear programme would soon be so far shifted to heavily-shielded underground centres that bombing could not hinder it.
Washington Post journalist David Ignatius followed up by reporting that US defence secretary Leon Panetta believed there was a “strong likelihood” that Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear program within the next six months — as early as April.
Panetta responded: “Israel indicated they’re considering this [a strike], we’ve indicated our concerns”.
According to Ignatius, Panetta and president Obama have told Israeli that “the United States opposes an attack”. As the Washington Post further reports: “US officials fear that an attack by Israel could trigger Iranian retaliation not only against the Jewish state but also against American interests around the world”.
Panetta said that in the event of an attack, the US’s prime concern would be to protect its own facilities and citizens.
There is serious cause to fear an Iranian nuclear bomb. Iranian government claims that their nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes are not to be trusted. And Iran would not be just another nuclear-armed state: it has a clerical-fascist regime vocally committed to making “the Zionist entity” (Israel) “disappear” and “go to hell”.
The Iranian regime is bullish about the Israeli threats. “We have our own threats to impose at the right time”, said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran, he said, would respond by aiding groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to attack Israel. In the event of war, “the west’s hegemony and threats will be discredited... The hegemony of Iran will be promoted. In fact, this will be in our service”.
Many working people in Iran will disagree. They will fear war, and attacks which will probably not be as “surgical” as claimed.
And many Israelis are scared about their leaders’ plans.
“If one is to believe the threats that are ramping up at warp speed, Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities before spring. If the assessments are accurate, hundreds or even thousands of Israelis will die in the retaliatory missile attacks that are sure to come”. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 5 February).
The Philadelphia Inquirer succinctly summarises the scenarios.
“One: There is broad agreement among top US and Israeli security experts that an Israeli strike would not destroy Iran’s nuclear program, which is scattered in several locations, some underground. At best, it might delay it one or two years.
“Two: Despite such a small reward, the negative consequences could be enormous. Israel may be willing to risk rocket and missile attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah. But a strike would probably boomerang by increasing Iran’s determination to build a weapon, while increasing support for the regime at home.
“Even if Iran didn’t, or couldn’t, close the Strait of Hormuz, oil prices would spike... The entire Mideast region would be further destabilised. And for what, if Iran’s nuclear program was only temporarily set back?”
• No to war! • No to the Islamic Republic! • Solidarity with Iranian workers!