While the U.S. is preparing for talks with Iran, Israel appears to be preparing for an attack, according to a plethora of media reports.
Israel Air Force planes conducted exercises between Israel and Gibraltar, including midair refueling, according to a report published Saturday in the French weekly L’Express. The writer speculated that the distance of the exercises that were carried out, 2,361 miles (3,800 km) from Israel, appeared to confirm that the IDF is preparing to attack Iran if Teheran continues its refusal to end its nuclear program.
Two weeks ago, the London-based Sunday Times reported that Israel plans to attack Iran’s nuclear reactor using three AWAC planes. A senior military official was quoted as saying, “Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words.”
However, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman downplayed the chances of Israel carrying out a military attack on Iran to halt or destroy its nuclear program. In a report published in last week’s Kleine Zeitung, Lieberman was quoted as saying, "The most effective way is to impose very harsh sanctions. We are not talking about a military strike. Israel cannot solve a global problem militarily.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates strongly warned Israel in mid- April not to attack Iran and said that the only way to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon is if "Iranians themselves decide it's too costly." He told Marine Corps students in an address that a military strike would do nothing more than delay Iran's nuclear programs while it would unify Iranians in an "undying hatred of whoever hits them."
Gates said that Western thinking should be geared toward arguing that nuclear weapons in Iran would diminish and not improve its security, "particularly if it launches an arms race in the Middle East."