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Terrorism & Security

Israel's public campaign against Iran has West on edge

Israel's steady stream of warnings against Iran troubles Western leaders, who worry that Israel will act unilaterally.

By Correspondent / February 3, 2012

In this November 2011 file photo, a smoke trail of a missile test-fired by the Israeli army as seen from the central Israeli town of Yavne. Israel's steady stream of warnings against Iran troubles Western leaders, who fear that Israel may launch unilateral attacks against Iran that could destabilize the Middle East and shatter the international coalition pressuring Iran to rein in its nuclear program.

Ilan Assayag/AP/File

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Israeli officials have ratcheted up the volume insisting that Iran poses a great danger to Israel and the West, with top Israeli government and military officials issuing multiple warnings yesterday about the Iranian nuclear program. Israel's public campaign against Iran is fueling concerns that Israeli forces may launch a unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear facilities this year.

Haaretz reports that Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel's intelligence service Shin Bet, told a closed forum in Tel Aviv that Iran has attempted "three serious attacks" against Israeli interests in the past year in retaliation for the assassinations of four Iranian nuclear experts, which Tehran believes were executed by Israeli agents.

Although Israel denies being behind the murders, Mr. Cohen said, "It doesn't matter if it's true or not that Israel took out the nuclear scientists."

"A major, serious country like Iran cannot let this go on," he said. "They want to deter Israel and extract a price so that decision makers in Israel think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist."

Elsewhere in Tel Aviv, Israeli vice prime minister and minister of strategic affairs Moshe Yaalon claimed that Iran was developing a new long-range missile that could reach the US eastern seaboard.  The Christian Science Monitor reports that if true, Yaalon's claim would mean Iran's missile program is much more advanced than previously thought. Separately, Israeli chief of military intelligence Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that Israel believed Iran has enough nuclear material to make four bombs.

And Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a Tel Aviv conference that the world "has no doubt that Iran's nuclear program is steadily nearing readiness." Bloomberg reports that he also argued that "there is widespread global understanding" that if sanctions do not stop the program, "there will arise the need of weighing an operation” to strike Iran.

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