The United States has indirectly informed Iran that it will not back an Israeli strike against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American interests in the Persian Gulf, Israeli news source Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
According to the report, the Obama administration used covert channels through two European countries to confirm to Iran that Washington will not participate in any Israeli attack, so long as Iran does not choose to react to such an attack by striking US military bases or interests in the Persian Gulf.
For months now, the debate has centered around bellicose Israeli officials using hawkish rhetoric to pressure the US into attacking Iran, even though the intelligence consensus in both countries is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and has not yet made any decision to actually build one.
Yedioth Ahronoth reports that officials in the White House “said Israel is trying to drag the US into an unnecessary conflict in the Gulf.”
Although the secret message to Iran is largely consistent with current US postures, explicitly articulated or not, the White House has denied the validity of the report, saying it is “completely false” that the US sent Iran this message.
Last week, America’s top military official Gen. Martin Dempsey reiterated that an Israeli strike would not only be counterproductive – in that it could prompt Iran to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program in earnest – but it would also be very dangerous in its potential to start a regional war.
A declassified war simulation run by the Pentagon earlier this year forecasted such a “strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States” and would immediately get at least 200 Americans killed in Iran’s retaliation, not to mention heavy Iranian and Israeli casualties. This cost was considered too high by the Pentagon and Obama administration, especially since such a war would be one of choice, not necessity.
Israel is now trying desperately to play down this news. But the Obama administration seems to be placing US interests in the Middle East – namely, military bases and obedient client states that Washington uses to maintain control over the oil resources and to prevent regional hegemony by any one state – above it’s typically blind subservience to the Israeli state.