“If I were an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks,” former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy was quoted in the New York Times as saying Thursday, in reference to a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The comment was made as concern in Washington mounts that Israel will undertake an independent military strike against Iran; and following recent assessments by American officials, carried by Ynetnews, that the United States believes there is an 18-month window before the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons programme reaches ”a critical stage.”
According to Halevy, apart from Netanyahu’s concern that Israel’s military option would “soon” become redundant, he cited several other reasons “for the potential timing.” Among them, the report said, was the fact that “Israel does not like to fight wars in winter.” Also, Netanyahu “feels that he will have less leverage if President Barack Obama is re-elected” while, were Mitt Romney to win the November elections, “the new president would be unlikely to want to take on a big military action early in his term.”
Still, the New York Times article continued, “a number of administration officials say they remain hopeful that Israel has no imminent plans to attack and may be willing to let the United States take the lead in any future military strike, which they say would not occur until next year at the earliest.”
The New York Times further reported that Obama administration officials say “Israeli officials are less confrontational in private” and that Netanyahu “understands the consequences of military action for Israel, the United States and the region. They say they know he has to maintain the credibility of his threat to keep up pressure on the United States to continue with sanctions and the development of military plans.”
Several top US defence officials have visited Israel over the past few weeks including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.