Israel and the U.S. disagree on how soon a military attack on Iran would be necessary, Israel’s defense minister said Thursday, even after admitting Iran currently has no nuclear weapons program.
Ehud Barak claimed Iran is trying to make its civilian nuclear program immune from attack before making a decision to actually develop nuclear weapons, and said Israel “cannot afford” to wait for that completely speculative hypothetical situation.
The consensus in the U.S. and Israel is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and has so far demonstrated no verifiable intention to do so. To suggest that an attack is warranted is to claim the right of preventive war, which flies in the face of both international law and any sane conception of just war.
In this case, it would be the right to wage war on a country who may at some unspecified point in the future develop weapons that it would certainly never use, although no evidence has been presented that said development has or will ever take place.
In a statement made simply to rattle Israel’s sabers and terrify Iranians, Barak told Israel Radio that the Jewish state could hold off waging preventive war for several more months to allow sanctions and negotiations to work, during which time it would become clear whether “the Iranians intend or don’t intend to stop their nuclear weapons program.” The one that doesn’t exist.
Neither Israel nor the U.S. seem willing to put an end to this seemingly impending conflict with Iran. For example, if Israel agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of un-inspected nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran has repeatedly proposed – Iran’s defensive opaqueness on certain aspects of its nuclear program would surely vanish, along with the pretext for war. But this remains out of the question for Tel Aviv and Washington.