(WASHINGTON) — American officials familiar with a recent classified war simulation exercise carried out by Central Command in the Middle East are reportedly concerned that the U.S. would be drawn into a wider war in the region if Israel goes ahead and attacks Iran to wipe out its nuclear program.
The two-week test was intended to only get a handle on the U.S. military capabilities to respond to such a crisis, not to rehearse a possible military strike if it came to that, The New York Times reports, citing officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
But the outcome of the exercise suggests that it would be almost unavoidable for American forces not to get directly involved, which could immediately lead to the loss of hundreds of lives on Navy warships that are stationed in the region.
It’s believed that a preemptive strike by Israel would push back Iran’s nuclear program by a year, and if joined by American firepower, perhaps by two years, according to the Times. However, if President Obama should order a full-scale strike, Iran’s nuclear program could be significantly damaged.
The administration has already said it prefers to settle the matter through sanctions and diplomatic means while cautioning Israel about the unknowable repercussions of what could happen if it decides to move ahead unilaterally.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Mohammed Tawfeeq, Joe Sterling and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Claire Moran, CNN
Ray Sanchez, CNN