(WASHINGTON) — Israel has more to lose than any other nation should Iran stock nuclear weapons. Hence, there’s been a lot of talk about the Israelis launching a preemptive military strike to eliminate this threat.
President Obama and other Western leaders have made it clear to Israel to hold off on attacking Iran until tough new sanctions that are supposed to hit at the heart of the Iranian’s oil shipping business are given time to work.
The level of concern that Israel might act unilaterally has reached the point where several high-level U.S officials have either spoken or will speak to Israeli leaders to have patience, including National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is siding more with the hawks in the Israeli Cabinet about launching a preemptive strike, is due in Washington next week for talks with President Obama.
Israel taking action of this kind is not unprecedented. In 1981, its military knocked out an unfinished reactor outside Baghdad, and in 2007, Israel destroyed a partially constructed nuclear reactor in Syria.
Doing the same in Iran will be more difficult, since the Iranians have several facilities hidden — including one built into a mountain.
The chief concern is that if the Israelis are unsuccessful, it would trigger a missile attack by the Iranians that could strike deep within the country.
Instability in the Middle East would also roil world markets and send the price of oil skyrocketing everywhere.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Alanna Petroff, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN