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Posted: 8/21/2004 8:32:54 AM EST
Tensions Escalate Between Israel, Iran
By JOSEF FEDERMAN, AP

JERUSALEM (Aug. 21) - Iran threatened this week to attack Israel's nuclear facilities. Israel ominously warned that it ''knows how to defend itself.'' Tensions between the two arch enemies have suddenly escalated, underlining the other great enmity that has been bubbling on the sidelines of the Arab-Israeli conflict for more than two decades.

Suspicions that the Iranian regime is moving forward with a nuclear arms program deeply worry Israel, which considers Iran the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israeli officials say they want to avoid escalating the situation, however, and there is no sign Israel is building up for an attack like the one that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

Experts say the two countries are unlikely to go to war anytime soon, despite the heated-up rhetoric coming out of Iran and the intensified efforts by Israel to isolate the Iranian regime diplomatically.

Iran and Israel once had close ties, but they have been foes since the 1979 revolution that ousted Iran's shah and installed an Islamic government. Iranian leaders routinely call for Israel's destruction, while Israelis accuse Iran of supporting anti-Israel terrorists.

The heightened tensions arose from the U.S.-led campaign to organize international pressure on Iran to rein in its nuclear program.

While recently confirming they are working with technology that can be used to produce weapons-grade uranium, the Iranians insist their program's sole purpose is the peaceful generation of power and angrily complain about being under siege.

Last month, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Iranians would ''crush'' Israel if it attacked the Persian state. Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, upped the ante this week, telling Al-Jazeera television that his government might launch pre-emptive strikes to protect its nuclear facilities if they were threatened.

''We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us,'' he said, adding that some Iranian generals believe the doctrine of pre-emption is ''not limited to Americans.''

The warning was seen as aimed at Israel, alluding to the Israeli strike on Saddam Hussein's reactor two decades ago.

A senior Israeli official responded that Israel's government was ready for all eventualities.

''We're not seeking war with Iran. But if a real threat materializes, Israel will know how to defend itself,'' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, reflecting long-standing Israeli policy of not talking publicly about matters involving nuclear arms.

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, but never formally confirms or denies it has them. It believes this policy of ambiguity is the best way to deter attack, by scaring regional foes about the possibility of nuclear annihilation while denying those nations a rationale for also seeking such weapons.

Despite the tensions, experts don't foresee things boiling over.

''I think it is a serious confrontation. The issue is who can do what about it,'' said Cliff Kupchan, vice president of the Nixon Center in Washington and a former Clinton administration official who is an expert on Iran.

''On the Israeli side, it is not clear that they have the military capabilities or intelligence knowledge to significantly set back the Iranian program. The Iranians learned from Osirak to disperse and copy everything they have (in their nuclear program). I don't think that Israel can do much.''

Sammy Salama, a research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, noted that the military situation is different, too.

''Iraq didn't have any way of striking back,'' Salama said, alluding to Iran's long-range Shahab-3 missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel. ''I think Iran, in essence, is saying, 'We are not Iraq.'''

AP-NY-08-21-04 0551EDT

Link Posted: 8/21/2004 8:41:26 AM EST
Well, if Iran decides to launch an attack against Israel, that will likely draw us in, because they will have to go through us to get to Israel. And if a war erupts between Iran and Israel, that will likely spark a regional war as the other shithole arab nations get braver and join Iran. So maybe that will give us the excuse we finally need to completely annihilate that whole freaking area.
Link Posted: 8/21/2004 9:35:02 AM EST
Just blow hard from the Iranians. They do not have the balls to do it. Israel wouldn't need much time to end the confict anyway.
Link Posted: 8/21/2004 9:38:47 AM EST
WHen are the towel heads going realise that they are good at truck bombs and beheading hancuffed drugged westerners.But not so good at waging full scale land warfare.

THey would be no match for the IDF.
Link Posted: 8/21/2004 9:42:11 AM EST

Originally Posted By MrClean4Hire:
Israeli officials say they want to avoid escalating the situation, however, and there is no sign Israel is building up for an attack like the one that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.




The "build-up" consisted of a senior officer saying "Shlomo, get your planes gassed up. You, Dov, and Izzy have to go blow up that reactor in Iraq."
Link Posted: 8/21/2004 9:43:01 AM EST

Originally Posted By Jm03:
WHen are the towel heads going realise that they are good at truck bombs and beheading hancuffed drugged westerners.But not so good at waging full scale land warfare.

THey would be no match for the IDF.



+1
Link Posted: 8/21/2004 9:51:26 AM EST
[Last Edit: 8/21/2004 9:52:16 AM EST by Johnny_Reno]
As it stands now, Iran is declaring that their nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. Iran is now poking Israel with a stick in order to prod the Israelies into making a counter-threat. Once they do that, they can claim that they have to switch gears on their nuclear program in order to provide for the defense of Iran. Do you recall the threat that Iran made towards US forces in Iraq? Again, they were poking us with a stick hoping to get a counter-threat out of us. Fortunately, we didn't fall for that. As it stands, as soon as the Iranians get an operational program, they will create some implied need for defense so that they can publically switch the purpose of the reactor from that of electricity generation to plutonium production.

End result: the Iranians get their nukes and can claim that they were always truthful from the beginning.
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