By Li Hongmei
BEIJING, Nov. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres warned Sunday that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely, days before a report by the UN's nuclear watchdog on Iran's nuclear program, which is due out this week.
But it is widely acknowledged that whether to strike Iran, the ultimate say will be with the president of the United States, not anyone else. And for now, at least, he doesn't seem so interested in backing a military strike as Israel expects.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said "a military intervention could create a situation that completely destabilizes the region" and would have irreparable repercussions for the world, when he told Europe 1 radio that his country would only go on with sanctions. The remarks by French diplomat came immediately after Israeli President Shimon Peres' intensified war rhetoric against Iran.
For years, Israel and Iran have never ceased to exchange venomous rhetorics and war threats, combined with the far-from unraveling issues that Israel has insisted Iran's nuclear program mask a drive for nuclear weapons,. But Iran has always denied any such ambition and insisted its nuclear program is for electricity generation and medical purposes only.
To respond to Israel's fresh threat of an "impending war" Iran warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by Tel Aviv. Not only once, Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway and a major oil shipping route, if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.
Still, regardless of whether Israel really intends to attack Iran, the final say would emanate from Washington. Hawkish as Israel's leaders may be, they would not attack Iran without U.S. permission. Also, it wouldn't matter who is in charge at the White House and how pro-Israel they may or may not be – a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran, without securing U.S. consent, would likely have severe consequences for Israel-U.S. relations.
After all, Striking Iran is a different matter from, say, the building of settlements, which doesn't directly risk American lives and the U.S. economy. Attacking Iran without U.S. approval could and would endanger the U.S. vested and strategic interests.
The US troops still remain in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and any unilateral attack by Israel could put the lives of U.S. soldiers there in jeopardy of Iranian retaliation. Also, it could create a massive spike in oil prices, something which could have severe consequences for an already sluggish U.S. economy.
Additionally, it is not only the risk to ties with the United States that's likely to make Israel think twice before going it alone. The reported opposition to an attack against Iran by influential figures like Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad, means that going ahead anyway would pose extreme political risks to the incumbent Israeli leadership should anything go wrong.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz said a majority of the 15 members of Israel's security cabinet voting against an attack on Iran, and a poll published by the newspaper also found Israeli public opinion divided, with 41 percent in favour, 39 percent opposed and 20 percent undecided.
Meanwhile, Obama's dual track strategy of diplomacy and sanctions might deliver a message to the world that Iran has never been so isolated, and the global opinions would never stand so steadfastly with Israel if it attacked Tehran.
With the increasingly close-linked but more pragmatic interrelations between countries, any military action on a sovereign country would spell irreparable repercussions for the world.
Special Report: Iran Nuclear Crisis