There is a growing American assessment that Israel will not attack Iranian nuclear facilities before the U.S. presidential elections on November 6.
U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who visited Israel last week, told a breakfast panel at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday that he believes the Israeli government is likely to wait until after the elections.
Rogers said that after his trip, during which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he’d been left with “no doubt in my mind” that the U.S. election cycle was part of Israel’s calculations. Asked why he thought Israel would wait, Rogers said, “Because I think they believe that maybe after the election they can talk the United States into cooperating.”
Rogers’ remarks were published on the website of the Washington newspaper The Hill, which reports primarily on the U.S. Congress.
During Rogers’ meeting with Netanyahu, the prime minister criticized U.S. President Barak Obama’s attitude toward Iran, according to a report in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. This led to a sharply worded exchange between Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who was present at the meeting, the paper said. Shapiro subsequently denied the report.
On Monday, former CIA director Michael Hayden told Haaretz that a decision on attacking Iran need not be made right now, as current assessments point to Iran achieving nuclear-weapons capabilities no earlier than 2013 or 2014.
Hayden said he believes those assessments are still valid, even though the time needed for the Iranians to make the leap into actual production of nuclear weapons has decreased, since the bottleneck in that plan was the missile development and the lack of enriched uranium needed to make warheads, not Tehran’s ability to turn the material into weapons.
Hayden added that if and when a decision is made to attack Iran, the U.S. would be better equipped to conduct it than Israel.
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Obama was considering a series of steps, both overt and covert, with the goal of helping Israel climb down from the tree and convincing Netanyahu to hold off on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
According to the report, Obama is considering making declarations regarding the United States’ “red lines” that may bring about an American attack on Iran if crossed.
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