The heavy pressure Israel is exerting through its threat to attack Iran may bear fruit on several fronts. On September 2, The New York Times reported that President Obama is considering making an unequivocal declaration of his willingness to attack Iran should talks on its nuclear program fail, and if the Iranians cross the red line the United States has drawn. Such a statement, which will be accompanied by a strict timetable for talks, is liable to satisfy the Israeli prime minister and allow him to wait on an attack despite progress in the nuclear program.
It is possible that such a declaration could arrive in Obama’s speech the day after tomorrow [September 6] at the end of the Democratic National Convention that starts today [September 4] in Charlotte, North Carolina, or in his speech at the UN General Assembly on the eve of Yom Kippur [on September 25].
This in contrast with the speech delivered last week by his opponent, Mitt Romney, who blamed Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus” and allowing Iran to continue in its nuclear program undisturbed.
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But the United States has more than just declarations to offer Israel in exchange for patience: The US administration is working with Israel on a package of steps to prevent an Israeli attack before the American presidential election on November 6 — an attack the Americans vehemently oppose.
Israel is interested in receiving from the US advanced weaponry that will allow it to preserve its freedom of action should it decide to postpone the strike on Iran. This technology would include refueling planes (which Obama has already committed to giving Israel) and modern bunker-busting bombs, which can penetrate a depth of 60 meters.
As opposed to in the past, it seems Obama will be ready to provide the weaponry. Ya’akov Amidror, head of Israel’s National Security Council, is heading the talks on the Israeli side.
According to The New York Times, the package includes among other things a naval exercise, the largest of its kind, with the participation of 25 states. It will be held this month in the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz “in what military officials say is a demonstration of unity and a defensive step to prevent Iran from attempting to block oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz.”
Additional steps include an increase in secret operations against the Iranian nuclear project, like the devastating viruses implanted in the past that brought about disruptions to the centrifuges in the nuclear facilities, a tightening of the economic chokehold on the Iranian oil industry and the installation of a missile-defense system in Qatar.
“The message to Iran would be that even if it developed a nuclear weapon and mounted it atop its growing fleet of missiles, it could be countered by antimissile systems,” The New York Times explains.
This is one of the reasons why Netanyahu seems to have slightly changed his tone with regard to Iran, retreating from absolute declarations about Israel’s right to defend itself from a nuclear Iran.
Another reason for Netanyahu’s moderation is the fear in Israel that the United States will take the drastic move of issuing a public warning against an attack, following two declarations by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Such a public warning is liable to harm the IDF’s deterrence capabilities and freedom of action, a situation that is clearly important for Israel to avoid.