Friday, May 18, 2012

Generally, old generals never die

Iran attack decision nears, Israeli elite locks down
This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu's private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade's most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program.

Time for that decision is fast running out and the mood in Jerusalem is hardening.

Adding to the international pressure, U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said this week American military plans to strike Iran were "ready" and the option was "fully available".

Experts say that within a few months, much of Iran's nuclear program will have been moved deep underground beneath the Fordow mountain, making a successful military strike much more difficult.

Iran's nuclear program - regarded by Netanyahu as an existential threat to the state of Israel - will soon be buried deep enough underground to render an Israeli attack impossible. The Jewish state's options are narrowing.

"I think they've gone into lockdown mode now," the senior Western diplomat said. "Whatever happens next, whatever they decide, we will not find out until it happens."

As the deadline for a decision draws nearer, the public pronouncements of Israel's top officials and military have changed. After hawkish warnings about a possible strike earlier this year, their language of late has been more guarded and clues to their intentions more difficult to discern.

"The top of the government has gone into lockdown," one official said. "Nobody is saying anything publicly. That in itself tells you a lot about where things stand."

Netanyahu, those who know him say, is determined to avoid going down in history as the man who did not shirk his opportunity to stop Iran going nuclear.

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