The danger is real enough.
According to this Reuters report from The Sydney Morning Herald
The US leader was rebuffed when he demanded private guarantees that a strike would not go ahead without White House notification, suggesting that Israel no longer plans to ''seek Washington's permission'', sources said.
The disclosure, by insiders briefed on a secret meeting between America's most senior defence chief and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comes amid concerns that Iran's progress towards nuclear weapons means Israel has lost hope for a diplomatic solution.
Israel has previously attacked Iraqi and Syrian facilities suspected of nuclear capabilities. The new Israeli MRBM is believed to have the range to hit Iran. Things are definitely getting complicated. According to the report, President Obama has supposedly ordered monitoring of Israeli intentions by US intelligence.
There’s no doubt whatsoever that the Israelis will use whatever means they have, if they’re convinced of a serious threat. There’s also not much hope that Iran will even modify its language, and current reports are less than reassuring:
The New York Times
In his report to the I.A.E.A.’s board of governors, Yukia Amano, head of the agency, said the I.A.E.A. had amassed “over a thousand pages” of documents, presumably leaked out of Iran, showing “research, development and testing activities” on a range of technologies that would only be useful in designing a nuclear weapon.
That terminology is almost unheard-of in official communications. Even during the Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction saga, the UN agencies weren’t that specific. Iran does have the necessary equipment, including a huge number of over 100 cyclotrons, to build a weapon. Iran denies building any nuclear weapons and says its nuclear facilities are for power generation.
The world has now been around the bomb Iran/don’t bomb Iran track several times. It was an issue for the Bush administration, and the Obama administration has been taking the threat very seriously since coming into office. It’s extremely unlikely that the information issued for public consumption is much more than the bare bones, if that, of the actual situation.
The story so far is grim:
Israel has repeatedly attacked any state with nuclear facilities in its region, and done so successfully. There is absolutely no reason to believe that it wouldn’t attack Iranian facilities.
Nuclear weapons would give Iran a major card to play which may also be a trigger for Western action if it was believed that Iran were providing these weapons to terrorists like Al Qaeda or had intentions to do so.
This situation has all the signs of a major war. A messy, disorganized, but very destructive and possibly global war.
There are no good scenarios:
1. Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear facilities with a nuke of its own. The result is a massive response across the Arab world against Israel, perhaps including some of the known 180 or so ex-Soviet suitcase bombs and other hobbyist artefacts which disappeared during the Soviet meltdown.
2. Iran strikes Israel with a nuke, causing an Israeli response and possibly Western attacks. Again, chaos and retaliation with likely attacks on Western targets, in effect a global terror war.
Possibility of any sort of dialogue between Israel and Iran is nil. Iran would lose credibility throughout the Arab world if it negotiated with Israel in any way. Iran has been Israel’s most vocal enemy in the Middle East for decades.
It’s also highly unlikely the Israelis would trust Iran under any circumstances. The Israelis have said since the beginning of the Iranian nuclear program that they would attack if necessary, and have effectively ignored any international criticism.
The Middle East has cursed the world with the spread of its religious fanatics and their apparently endless hatreds for millennia. This is yet another example of the disease at work.
May your gods forgive you, Israel and Iran, because if this is the start of a world war, humanity never will.