As talks over a nuclear deal with Iran continued past self-imposed deadlines, Israel’s intelligence minister has warned that the military option is on the table–and noted that Israel does not need U.S. cooperation to carry out a pre-emptive strike.
According to the Times of Israel, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio Thursday: “…if we have no choice we have no choice… the military option is on the table.” He reminded listeners that Israel had attacked Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 without help from then-President Ronald Reagan (who actually condemned the attack).
Foreign policy analysts estimate that Israel has the political will to carry out such a strike against Iran, but note that the logistical challenge of doing so makes such an operation extremely risky. Israel also has little ability to follow up with a ground assault, and will likely sustain heavy incoming fire from Iranian rockets in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria in retaliation.
The message from Steinitz may also be aimed at pressuring negotiators in Switzerland not to reach a bad deal. As of Thursday, the U.S. and Iran remained at the negotiating table, though many other participants had already left the talks.