Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is worried that Israeli will launch a preemptive, unilateral military strike on Iran within the next few months, according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disagrees with U.S. assessments that Iran’s nuclear program is civilian in nature and doesn’t want to risk Israeli security waiting for America to bomb Iran, which U.S. officials have said they won’t do under current circumstances.
“President Obama and Panetta are said to have cautioned the Israelis that the United States opposes an attack,” writes Ignatius, favoring instead a harsh set of economic sanctions as punishment for not building nuclear weapons.
“The Obama administration is conducting intense discussions about what an Israeli attack would mean for the United States: whether Iran would target U.S. ships in the region or try to close the Strait of Hormuz; and what effect the conflict and a likely spike in oil prices would have on the fragile global economy.”
While U.S. officials reportedly believe that Israel has not made a final decision to attack, the prospect of war is as close as ever.