Two recent interviews apparently given by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak provide evidence that the new wave of reports in the Israeli press about a possible Israeli attack on Iran is a means by which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak hope to leverage a U.S. shift toward Israel’s red lines on Iran’s nuclear program.
An interview given by a “senior official in Jerusalem” to Ynet News on Wednesday makes the first explicit linkage between the unilateral Israeli option and the objective of securing the agreement of President Barack Obama to the Israeli position that Iran must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapons “capability.”
In the Ynet News interview, the unnamed official is reported as explicitly offering a deal to the Obama administration: if Obama were to “toughen its stance” with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, Israel “may rule out a unilateral attack.”
Ynet News reporter Ron Ben Yishai writes that Obama “must repeat publicly (at the U.N. General Assembly, for instance), that the U.S. will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and that Israel has a right to defend itself, independently.”
Obama made both statements, in effect, at the conference of the influential American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but has not repeated them since then.
But the official added a more far-reaching condition for dropping the option of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran, according to Ben Yishai: Obama must also make it clear that his “red line” is no longer evidence of an intention to enrich to weapons-grade levels but the Israeli red line that Iran must not be allowed to have the enrichment capability to do so if Iran were to make the decision.