The New York Times reports this morning that US President Barack Obama is considering making declarations regarding the United States’ ‘red lines’ that if crossed, may bring about an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
According to the report, President Obama is mulling a series of both overt and covert steps with the goal of convincing Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, not to undertake an uncoordinated strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The New York Times report adds that the Obama administration is also exploring the possibility of mounting a ‘quiet’ cyber war against Iran. The report notes that the Obama administration had previously rejected the idea, fearing such cyber attacks would wreak unnecessary havoc on Iranian civilian life.
In a related report this morning, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the US has indirectly informed Iran, via two European countries, that it would not back an Israeli strike against the country’s nuclear facilities, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American interests in the Persian Gulf.
According to the report, Washington sent the message to Iran via back channels in Europe to clarify that the US does not intend to back an Israeli strike that may spark a regional war. In return, Washington reportedly expects Iran to steer clear of strategic American assets in the Persian Gulf – such as military bases and aircraft carriers.
Israeli officials speaking to Yedioth Ahronoth reported an unprecedented low in the two nations’ defence ties – which they said arises from the Obama administration’s desire to warn Israel against mounting an uncoordinated attack on Iran before US elections in November.
On Sunday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at criticism of the US position on Iran, telling ministers at the weekly Cabinet meeting that the international community has failed to send a clear message to Iran regarding its nuclear programme. Netanyahu said that while international sanctions have harmed Tehran, they haven’t done ‘anything to stall the progress of the nuclear programme.’