A senior Israeli government official on Sunday responded to recent statements by American leaders regarding a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by saying they were representative of an intense debate at the White House over how to deal with Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, the official explained that within the Bush Administration there is a "hawkish camp" led by Vice President Dick Cheney that wants to employ the military option to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and feels an Israeli raid is the perfect way to get the ball rolling.
On the other side is the "dovish camp" led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that believes the US and its allies must continue with thus far ineffective diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to voluntarily halt its nuclear program.
Israel, said the official, is currently being used as a pawn by both sides to further their own agendas.
While Israel has all but admitted to preparing for a possible strike on Iran should diplomatic efforts ultimately fail, Jerusalem has acknowledged that it would be unable to take military action against the Islamic Republic without a green light from Washington.
"We would need to fly through airspace controlled by the US, and we would need their help in dealing with repercussions from any attack," the Israeli government source told the Post. He noted that a strike on Iran would likely raise oil prices to around $300 a barrel and bring severe international sanctions on Israel.
Late last month, former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told a British newspaper that if Democratic candidate Barack Obama wins the upcoming presidential election, Israel will feel intense pressure to hit Iran before Obama's January inauguration.
Obama has repeatedly indicated that if he becomes president, the military option against Iran will be completely removed from the table.
Meanwhile, London's Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that the latest Western intelligence reports reveal that Iran has secretly resumed work on constructing equipment that experts say is used primarily for building nuclear weapons.
According to the report, Iran's Revolutionary Guard has set up a number of companies on the outskirts of Tehran that appear to be regular civilian companies, but which are actually busy constructing advanced gas centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to weapons grade.