Israeli officials increasingly are hinting that their country could act alone to attack Iran's atomic sites, the Associated Press reports.
Recent statements by senior Israeli politicians have raised the profile of their nation's longstanding threat to strike Iranian nuclear installations, and could signal frustration in Israel with a multilateral dialogue on Tehran's nuclear program, the news agency reported on Friday. Israel, the United States and several European countries suspect that Iran's atomic activities could be directed toward arms development, a contention Tehran has denied.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his nation's armed forces to maintain readiness in 2014 to potentially take action against Iran's atomic facilities, according to a Thursday news article in Haaretz. The policy reportedly is slated to cost Israel roughly $2.9 billion this year.
Separately, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon last week suggested that Washington's pursuit of negotiations may prompt Israel to act unilaterally against Iran.
Also last week, Israeli General Staff head Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz stressed that Iran "is not in an area that is out of the [Israeli] military's range."
According to former Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, such statements are not bluffs.
"We aren't playing a game of neighborhood bully. This is a stated policy of the state of Israel and has been made clear ... to anyone who meets Israel's representatives," Amidror said.
Internationally, Israel's threats have largely fallen on deaf ears in the wake of a November nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers, according to AP. Iran accepted certain atomic restrictions in exchange for curbs on economic sanctions under the six-month deal, which was intended to lay the groundwork for a future long-term plan addressing fears about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Any Israeli military strike on Iran would probably scuttle the talks and prompt an armed backlash, but it is unclear how much damage Israel could independently inflict on its regional rival, the news agency said.