Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren reignited concerns Israeli will soon launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, when he declared in an interview with MSNBC that Israel’s time bomb on the Iranian issue “is ticking faster” than America’s.
His words came in response to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s statement Monday that President Barack Obama “continues to believe that there is time and space for diplomacy”. Stressing that the US was committed to mounting pressure on the controversial Islamist regime over its disputed nuclear weapons programme, through a twin-track approach of diplomacy combined with severe economic sanctions, he added the US administration was “making it clear that such pressure will only grow until Iran changes course”.
Whilst Oren recognised that stringent sanctions “may still deter them”, he continued they must be accompanied by the real threat of military action, paraphrasing Obama’s commitment “to keep al options on the table, including a military option”.
Addressing allegations Israel would soon mount a military attack on Iran, Carney seconded US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s comments ahead of his recent visit to Israel that the Jewish State had “not yet decided” on a military course. Carney emphasised that the US has “a robust, cooperative relationship with Israel on security matters, we share a great deal of information, and especially about Iran”.
Oren responded by declaring that whilst Panetta’s words of caution on the Iran issue were appreciated, there are “structural differences between the United States and Israel which we can’t ignore”.
“The United States is a big country with very large capabilities located far from the Middle East,” he expanded, adding: “Israel is a small country with certain capabilities located in Iran’s backyard. And Israel, not the United States, is threatened almost weekly, if not daily, with annihilation by Iranian leaders.”
Adding fuel to claims the US was counselling Israel to refrain from striking Iran, Carney concluded that Obama’s administration shared with its partners its belief “there remains time and space to pursue a diplomatic course that is backed up by the very firm approach we’ve taken on sanctions”.
Meanwhile an Iranian foreign ministry official dismissed claims Israel is prepared to launch a military attack on the regime as “hollow and baseless”. In a weekly media briefing Tuesday, spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters: “Even if some officials in the illegitimate regime (Israel) want to carry out such a stupid action, there are those inside (the Israeli government) who won’t allow it because they know they would suffer very severe consequences from such an act”.
His comments came after Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with Israeli radio Thursday that “we are determined to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear, and all the options are on the table. When we say it, we mean it”.
Daily The New York Times meanwhile hit back at Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly adamant rhetoric that Israel alone is responsible for defending itself from the threat Iran presents to its existence, with an editorial in which it claimed “there is still time for intensified diplomacy. It would be best served if the major powers stay united and Israeli leaders temper loose talk of war”.