Robert O. Freedman is Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone Professor of Political Science at Baltimore Hebrew University, Visiting Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University and contributes to Harvard’s Middle East Strategy blog.
Growing U.S.-Israel gap on Iran
In recent months, a growing gap has become evident between the United States and Israel on policy toward Iran. While the Bush Administration seems increasingly reluctant to use force to stop the rapidly expanding Iranian nuclear program, the vast majority of Israelis, who see the Iranian nuclear program as a mortal threat, are increasingly willing to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, especially the centrifuge plant at Natanz, the heavy-water reactor under construction at Arak, and the nuclear reactor under construction—with the help of Russia—at Bushehr.
Two factors have intensified Israeli concern. The first is that despite occasional Iranian denials, Iran appears to be receiving the long-range SAM-300 anti-missile system from Russia, with installation of the missiles around Iran’s nuclear sites expected to be completed between March and September, 2009. Once these missiles are installed and operational, an attack by the Israeli air force against the Iranian nuclear installations will be much more difficult. Second, the recent deterioration of Russian-American relations which resulted from the Russian invasion of Georgia makes it even less likely than before that the UN Security Council will vote serious economic sanctions against Iran.
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