As the confrontation with a defiant Iran over its nuclear program grows, President Obama is sending National Security Adviser Tom Donilon to Israel for consultations.
The United States and its allies have in recent weeks ratcheted up sanctions against Iran, but so far with no noticeable effect on slowing the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Donilon’s visit follows a trip by the chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad to Washington earlier this month, reportedly to talk about the possibility of bombing Iran. Obama and Netanyahu spoke by phone January 12.
From the White House:
National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will travel to Israel from February 18-20 for consultations with senior Israeli officials about a range of issues, including Iran, Syria, and other regional security issues. National Security Advisor Donilon’s travel is the latest in a series of regular, high-level consultations between the United States and Israel, consistent with our strong bilateral partnership, and part of our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Daily Telegraph is reporting that senior Obama administration officials have determined that sanctions are unlikely to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program.
Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.
But there is a strong current of opinion within the administration – including in the Pentagon and the state department – that believes sanctions are doomed to fail, and that their principal use now is in delaying Israeli military action, as well as reassuring Europe that an attack will only come after other means have been tested.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Israel in October, and CIA Director David Petraeus is reportedly in regular contact with senior Israeli officials.