The New York Times reported today that the US and Israel remain at odds on whether Iran’s nuclear facilities are about to become impregnable.
Senior Israeli officials have reportedly told the Americans in recent weeks that Israel is rapidly reaching the so-called “zone of immunity,” the circumstances under which Israel could no longer hold off from a military attack because Iran’s effort to produce a bomb would be invulnerable to any strike. The American officials have argued that Israel and the West have more time and should allow sanctions and covert actions to deter Iran’s plans.
The Americans have said publicly that an Israeli strike against Iran could come as early as spring. But the Times reports that in a recent phone conversation, President Obama has convinced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give economic sanctions more time to work.
The Israelis have zeroed in on Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Fordo, an underground facility beneath so many layers of granite that it would be out of the reach of bunker-busting bombs. Once enrichment activities are under way at Fordo, the Israelis argue, Iran could throw out IAEA inspectors and produce bomb-grade fuel without fear the facility would be destroyed.
The Americans reportedly do not see the urgency of attacking Fordo and argue that other actions could be as effective, like shutting off Iran’s oil revenues, taking out facilities that supply centrifuge parts to Fordo or hitting installations where the Iranians would turn the fuel produced at Fordo into a nuclear weapon.
Source: The New York Times, 9 February 2012