Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week revealed that Israel nearly launched a military strike against Iran earlier this year, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Arab Middle East would welcome such action by Israel.
In an interview with London's Daily Telegraph, Barak said that eight months ago, Iran was reaching a certain red line in its nuclear weapons program, and as a result Israel was set to immediately launch a preemptive aerial assault.
Barak said the order was cancelled at the last minute when Iran suddenly diverted part of its enriched uranium to verifiable civilian programs. Had Iran not done so, the two nations would already be at war.
Barak went on to say he was not sure why Iran had made that decision, but speculated that increased talk of an Israeli strike might have had some influence.
Barak closed by insisting that Israel retains the right to take action against Iran if it continues down the path to nuclear armament. He said that "in the coming year" Israel and its allies are going to have to make a very difficult decision about what to do with Iran.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu reiterated his belief that, whether or not they admit so publicly, the Arab states will welcome Israeli or US military action against Iran's nuclear program.
"Five minutes after [an attack], contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region," Netanyahu told the French magazine Paris Match. "Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it, and some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear-armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel."
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