Last Netanyahu-Obama meeting before Iran strike?
The mainstream media this week made much of reports that Israel had refused a request to provide the US with advanced warning of any plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. But that may be just what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing as he prepares to depart for Washington this weekend. Some speculate that Monday’s White House meeting may be the last face-to-face between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama before an inevitable Israeli move on Iran.
In the run-up that the meeting, Obama Administration officials are talking tough on Iran, and suggesting that earlier statement to the effect that the US would not back an Israeli strike were erroneous. “It’s absolutely clear that the president’s policy is to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons capability,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. Clinton’s statement was important in that she emphasized that, like Israel, the US is not willing to wait until Iran is actually building or fielding a nuclear weapon, but rather is determined to prevent Iran from even gaining the capability to do so.
Also on Wednesday, US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz revealed to reporters that the US has prepared strike plans of its own, and will likely execute them if Israel goes to war with Iran. Tough talk is one thing, but former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said that Netanyahu will be seeking firm assurances when he meets with Obama. In a New York Times op-ed, Yadlin wrote, “What is needed is an ironclad American assurance” that if Israel does not act against Iran itself, the US will do whatever necessary to make sure Iran cannot build nuclear weapons. Absent such an assurance, Israel’s leadership “may well choose to act while they still can,” warned Yadlin.
Meanwhile, Iran’s leaders are busy riling up their people for the coming showdown. “The Iranian nation will slap the arrogant powers in the face harder than ever by their high turnout,” declared Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a rally ahead of Friday’s parliamentary election. Iran’s hardline government and its radical religious overlords are expected to be significantly bolstered by the election as nearly all reform-minded parties have been banned from participating.