Israel Has Right to Hit Iran: Biden

Published on
by
The Age (Australia)

Israel Has Right to Hit Iran: Biden

by
Anne Davies and Jason Koutsoukis

File photo shows X-band radars (L) installed by the United States at a military facility in Israel's Negev desert. In 2008, the US agreed to install a radar system in Israel to counter a perceived missile threat from Iran. US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast that the United States would not stand in the way of Israel in its dealings with Iran's nuclear ambitions. (AFP/File/David Buimovitch)

Israeli officials have welcomed
comments by US Vice-President Joe Biden that America would not stand in
the way of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear plants.

Mr
Biden contradicted his country's most senior military commander,
Admiral Mike Mullen, when he responded, three times, to questions on
the American ABC's This Week program that Israel was free to do what it needed to do.

"If
the Netanyahu Government decides to take a course of action different
than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do
that. That is not our choice," Mr Biden said.

Israeli
officials have read the comments as a sign the US is preparing a "plan
B" in the event that its proposed dialogue with Iran fails to rein in
Tehran's uranium enrichment program.

Speaking in
Tokyo, Alaeddin Broujerdi, the head of Iran's parliamentary committee
on national security and foreign policy, said Iran was ready to take
decisive action if Israel attacked its nuclear operations.

"Both
the US and Israel are aware of the consequence of an erroneous
decision," Mr Broujerdi said. "I believe our response will be real and
decisive."

President Barack Obama told Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in May that he expected to know by the end
of the year whether Iran was making "a good-faith effort to resolve
differences" in ending its nuclear program, signalling that his
willingness to engage in diplomacy over the issue had limits.

Israel
reportedly gave serious thought to a pre-emptive strike against Iran's
Natanz nuclear complex last year but was told by then US president
George Bush that the US would not support such a move.

Officials
in Jerusalem were not surprised by Mr Biden's comments, saying that
while the Obama Administration might not have given the green light to
an Israeli attack against Iran, it was not withholding approval.

"There
are secret understandings between Israel and the Obama Administration
as to the options that Israel has regarding Iran," said one political
source quoted by the newspaper Israel Today.

The
newspaper quoted sources in Mr Netanyahu's office as saying that "the
fact that Biden is talking about Israel's right to attack Iran, and at
the same time fewer statements are being made on settlements, shows
that Mr Netanyahu is succeeding, slowly and determinedly, in persuading
the Americans of the justice of his Government's policy".

The liberal Israeli daily Haaretz
said Israel now believed the US was considering more punitive action
against Iran, such as tighter sanctions, but still wanted to give
dialogue a chance of succeeding.

Mr Biden's comments
appeared at odds with those of Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral
Mullen, who seemed to warn against an Israeli strike on Iran in
appearances on CBS' Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday.
"I worry about it being very destabilising, not just in and of itself,
but the unintended consequences of a strike like that," Admiral Mullen
told CBS.

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