Israel and the United States should begin an intense dialogue on ways to deal with Iran's nuclear plans and should examine ways to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, according to a new study published by an influential Washington think tank.
The report, by a former deputy head of the National Security Council, Chuck Freilich, says Israel and the U.S. should discuss nuclear-crisis scenarios between Israel and Iran. The report, entitled "Speaking About the Unspeakable," was released over the weekend by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Freilich assumes that detailed talks between the U.S. and Israel on Iran do not extend beyond exchanges of intelligence, coordination of diplomatic moves and the supply of sophisticated weapons to Israel.
According to Freilich, a lack of symmetry exists between the U.S. and Israel on the Iranian threat, although both use similar rhetoric toward it. From Israel's perspective, Iran presents a potential existential threat, so its nuclear plans must be stopped at almost any price. In contrast, the U.S. is disturbed by the implications of nuclear weapons in Iran but does not see it as an existential threat.
In Freilich's view, this difference in evaluations dictates the nature of the dialogue. The U.S. is leery about talks with Israel on military action against Iran, and Israel is concerned about talks on security alternatives if Iran's nuclear status is accepted.
Freilich lists the alternatives; he believes that diplomacy and sanctions have a slim chance of success. He mentions a quasi-military alternative such as a naval blockade or secret sabotage action, an Israeli or American military action, or coming to terms with a nuclear Iran, with the U.S. giving security assurances to Israel. He opposes the proposal that Israel move to an open nuclear policy to deter Iran.
Freilich says Israel would prefer that the U.S. attack Iran. He notes that if Israel believes it can successfully attack Iran, Israel fears that the U.S. would veto the plan, so Israel would not unveil the scheme ahead of time. The U.S. would also keep secret from Israel any intention of attacking Iran.
Freilich believes that despite these mutual reservations, detailed discussions between the U.S. and Israel should be held on possible military action against Iran because of the need to separate forces if Israel attacks Iran and U.S. forces are in the way. In addition, Iran in any case would see the U.S. and Israel as cooperating and would respond against both.
Freilich proposes a dialogue on Iran's possible responses, on terror attacks and the disruption of oil shipments from the Gulf to the West. But he also seeks a dialogue on how to live with a nuclear Iran.
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