published Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Israel, Iran on collision course over nukes

The likelihood of a military strike by Israel to halt Iran's work to build nuclear weapons appears to be growing rapidly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that his nation will not stand by while Iran -- which has threatened Israel's very existence -- acquires nukes.

And now, Israeli President Shimon Peres has said he sees a military strike against Iranian nuclear sites as probable.

"[T]he possibility of a military strike on Iran is more likely to be realized than the diplomatic option," he said in an Israeli newspaper article.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that "no option should be removed from the table" in confronting Iran.

And Netanyahu has said, in reference to Iran, "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first."

The issue of Iran took on new urgency recently when the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report stating that Iran is engaged in activities that are "specific to nuclear weapons," not only to nuclear energy production or other peaceful uses of nuclear power.

For instance, Iran has worked on a detonator to set off a nuclear charge and has done computer modeling of the interior of a nuclear warhead.

As is typical of Iran, it denies those claims, saying they are based on forged intelligence documents.

But ironically, while most of Israel's Arab neighbors are usually hostile toward Israel, on this issue some are in agreement with Israel's concerns about Iran. Though leaders of the Persian Gulf states won't say it publicly, news accounts indicate that they may want Israel to take some sort of action to halt unstable Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

How best to deal with the threat that terrorism-sponsoring Iran represents is uncertain. But permitting such a radical regime to obtain nukes poses a massive danger not only to Israel but to the entire Middle East and, ultimately, to the United States.

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