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article imageBiden suggests Israel has green light on military attack on Iran

By Michael Krebs     Jul 5, 2009 in Politics
While the Obama administration struggles to provide clarity on the vice president's remarks, Biden appeared to give Israel a green light on a military strike against Iran.
There appeared to be a disconnect between U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and the top U.S. military officer on the subject of an Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. While Biden appeared to give Israel a green light on attacking Iran, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that an attack on Iran would be very destabilizing.
It appeared that Biden may have been talking out of turn, his comments on ABC's "This Week" suggesting a significantly stronger stance against Iran. The Obama administration went into a corrective recovery mode, reaching out to the press in an effort to clarify Biden's commentary.
According to the Associated Press, "administration officials insisted his televised remarks Sunday reflected the U.S. view that Israel has a right to defend itself and make its own decisions on national security."
However, Biden also indicated that the U.S. would be willing to talk with Iran.
"If the Iranians respond to the offer of engagement, we will engage," Biden said on ABC's "This Week."
But when asked if the U.S. would allow an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, Biden said, "Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do."
Given the significant financial aid that the United States provides to Israel, there are numerous actions America can take to discourage an Israeli strike. The U.S. influence in Iraq could also prohibit Israeli planes from crossing Iraqi airspace.
"Pressed further on this point with a reminder that the U.S. could impede an Israeli strike on Iran by prohibiting it from using Iraqi air space, Biden said he was 'not going to speculate' beyond saying that Israel, like the U.S., has a right to 'determine what is in its interests,'" reported AP.
While President Obama has held out hope for an open dialogue with Iran, he made it clear - after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in mid-May - that Iran's full intentions on open and direct negotiations would be known by year-end. And as we head into the second half of the year, it appears that Israel is making preparations and securing air-strike routes.
Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, expressed his worries about consequences of an attack on Iran.
"I worry about it being very destabilizing not just in and of itself but the unintended consequences of a strike like that," he told CBS's "Face the Nation."
"Most experts believe that wiping out the Iranian nuclear program is beyond the ability of Israel's military," AP reported. "In 1981 the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in a lightning strike. But Iran's facilities are scattered around the country, some of them underground."
More about Biden, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Air strike
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