The Iranian Problem Is Not the Israeli Problem

The shock waves that an independent Israeli military operation could generate and the damage it would cause to Israel's vital interests, ought to forestall any thought of an operation.

A new phase in the battle against the Iranian nuclear threat began on Tuesday with publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency's report. The report clearly shows that Iran carried out tests which cannot be interpreted in any way other than as signaling an intent to develop nuclear weapons.

But the satisfaction that Israel can derive from the report's public confirmation of its fears - that is, from the fact that both its warnings and the information it has possessed for some time now have finally gained international recognition - should not overshadow the strategic importance of the battle that lies ahead. The time has now come for all the countries of the world, and the great powers in particular, to revise the rules of their policy toward Iran.

The working assumption is that a window of opportunity still remains in which Iran's policy could be altered, whether by diplomacy or by imposing meaningful sanctions that would compel the regime in Tehran to halt its nuclear program. This is the same working assumption that has already prompted countless exhausting and pointless discussions and dialogues between senior Western officials and Iran.

Admittedly, this process did lead to sanctions, some international and others American or European. But so far, they do not appear to have brought about the desired result. Today, too, the sanctions policy depends on the willingness of Russia and China to join the battle, and there is as yet no guarantee that they will do so.

Israel, meanwhile, has striven to demonstrate willingness to act on its own, if necessary. In contrast to the Western states, and certainly to Russia and China, Israel has hinted that its military option is becoming ever more concrete.

But Israel must take care not to remove the Iranian threat from the international arena and turn it into a threat against Israel alone. It must urge the great powers to utilize their strength and influence, but it must not threaten military action.

The shock waves that an independent Israeli military operation could generate in this region, and the damage it would cause to Israel's vital interests in the future, ought to forestall any thought of such an operation. The international community must be allowed to work without turning the Iranian problem into an Israeli problem. Israel has received important confirmation of its fears, but not a green light for independent action.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: הדו"ח פורסם, כעת תור המעצמות