The possibility of a military conflict with Iran has escalated with reports of United States President Barack Obama delivering a “contingency plan” to Israel in the event of an attack by Iran.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Obama’s National Security Advisor, Thomas Donilon, briefed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on steps the US was prepared to make, should the current posturing by both parties become more serious.
The reports follow a trip by US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Israel this past week, delivering public promises to support Israel should they choose to “invade Iran.”
Romney’s aide Dan Senor told reporters that were Israel to take action on their own to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities, “the governor would respect that decision.”
Romney’s comments were made after a public pledge from Obama of $70 million in military aid to Israel to bolster the Iron Dome missile defence system that currently lines the Gaza border.
The “contingency plan” may prove to be little more than election year posturing for Obama and Romney. Reuters has reported from their own unnamed source that the claim is a fake.
Avoiding an open conflict, both Israel and Iran have undertaken clandestine operations, supporting various factions in the Middle East in an attempt to balance the influence of the other.
Netanyahu lashed out against Iran for supporting Hezbollah, holding them responsible for the explosion on a bus in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists two weeks ago, while the assassinations of several Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010 have been called the work of the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency by both Iranian and international sources.
Earlier this year WikiLeaks published documents from a US-based private intelligence company which implicated Israel in covert operations which targeted Iranian nuclear research and defence facilities late last year.
Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defence Minister, showed tacit approval of an explosion believed to be linked to covert operations in a military base close to Tehran which killed 17 people in November. AFP reported him as saying, “I don’t know the extent of the explosion, but it would be desirable if they multiply.”
Iran has been pitted against Israel and US for nearly a decade over US support for Israel and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Now the rapidly escalating crisis in Syria further puts them at odds.
Iran has been a strong supporter of Syria’s beleaguered President Bashar Al-Assad and Israeli media reporting that Syria’s foreign minister is currently in Tehran for meetings. An increasingly likely collapse of Al-Assad’s regime could bring Iran and the US even closer to a direct confrontation.
For now though the conflict between Iran and the US and Israel remains a war of words.