No country situated near Iran is especially secure. But perhaps no nation is threatened more directly by Iran than Israel. Iran's president has a stated desire to destroy Israel, and Iran's longtime sponsorship of terrorism means Israel can't ignore such threats.
So it is significant that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently said there is a "strong likelihood" Israel will launch a military attack this spring to disrupt -- if not destroy -- Iran's nuclear program.
Iran is believed to be developing nuclear weapons. It claims that effort is strictly for civilian purposes, but nothing in Iran's menacing acts makes it reasonable to give it the benefit of the doubt.
It would not be unprecedented if Israel launched a strike to slow Iran's nuclear ambitions. Israel previously destroyed a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.
Still, such an attack is not without risk. Iran is a large country, and it is not at all certain that Israel could knock out Iran's entire nuclear operation. At any rate, Israel would surely be condemned by the "international community" and the U.N. if it tried to do so.
Nevertheless, the risk of foreign condemnation pales by comparison with the threat to Israel posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. So we can see why Israel would at a minimum contemplate military action against Iran.
Israel will be engaged in a difficult decision-making process over the coming weeks and months as it takes steps to safeguard its very existence.