William Hague: Israel attack on Iran ´would not be wise´ (TELEGRAPH UK) Phoebe Greenwood, Tel Aviv 02/20/12)
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William Hague issued a blunt warning to Israel that launching a
strike against Iran would not be "a wise thing" as worldwide concern
over the prospects of a full-blown conflict grew.
The intervention came as Tom Donilon, President Barack Obama´s
national security advisor, arrived in Israel for emergency talks with
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Reiterating concerns raised to The Daily Telegraph last week, Mr
Hague said the world faced the real risk of conflict or the prospect
that an Iran armed with a nuclear weapon would result in a second
Cold War if economic sanctions did not force Tehran to change course.
"They would either be attacked and there would be a war, or there
would be a cold war in which Iran for the long term would be subject
to these very intense economic sanctions and they would find that
other nations in their region developed nuclear weapons," he said. Mr
Haugue added that Israel has not shared its plans with the UK.
Israel is coming under ever-greater pressure from the US and Britain
to hold back from launching a military attack on Iran´s nuclear
facilities, which many within the Israeli defence community warn
would be disastrous for regional security.
Responding to Mr Hague´s stark warning on condition of anonymity, a
senior source within the Israeli government said that Israel received
the Foreign Secretary´s comments with "gravity and seriousness",
adding that Israel would continue to communicate with the British
government through diplomatic channels.
"There are regular talks taking place behind closed doors," the
Israeli official added. "I think Mr Hague knows very well that he
does not want us to share our plans with the UK because shared plans
means shared responsibility, and the British government doesn´t want
According to US government officials quoted by Israeli newspaper
Ha´aretz, the Obama administration believes Israel is likely to
launch a military attack on Iran in a matter of months.
Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, has predicted that Israel
will launch a strike in April or June.
The Netanyahu government is yet to issue an official response to Mr
Panetta´s prediction of war or the requests for caution issued by Mr
Hague and his counterparts.
Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it
would be "premature" to take military action against Iran in response
to its nuclear activities.
"I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time
for a military option was upon us," Gen Dempsey said. "I think that
the economic sanctions and the international cooperation that we´ve
been able to gather around sanctions is beginning to have an effect,"
Ehud Barak, Israel´s defence minister, has also insisted that an
Israeli strike is unlikely in the near future. He called instead for
further "crippling and consequential" sanctions against Iran.
While Israel has expressed meagre satisfaction with the impact of the
economic sanctions already applied on the Iranian regime –
particularly following Belgian company SWIFT´s compliance with
international demands to block the transference of funds from Iranian
banks on Friday– Israeli defence chiefs insist that international
community must go further.
As one senior Israeli government official said recently, "Any measure
that doesn´t stop Iran´s nuclear programme is inadequate".
Mr Netanyahu is expected to repeat that message to Mr Donilon, who
was joined by an entourage of top White House, state and defence
officials, before he leaves Israel today.
The brief visit organised by Israel´s National Security Council,
allows the American team to consult with Mr Barak, Yaakov Amidror,
the head of the NSC and Avigdor Lieberman, Israel´s foreign minister.
Both the US and Britain believe Israel "give sanctions a chance" to
prevent Iranian nuclear armament, while leaving "no options are the
off the table".
Echoing Mr Panetta´s vow last week that the US would take military
action should Iran block the straight of Hormuz or gain possession of
a nuclear weapon, Mr Hague told the BBC on Sunday: "We do not take
any options off the table, we don´t know how the situation will
develop, it would be unwise to do that." (© Copyright of Telegraph
Media Group Limited 2012. 02/20/12)
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