The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program during the past few months have produced nothing more than a diplomatic dance in the face of persistent Iranian ploys for time coupled with intransigence on key issues. In failing to reach a negotiated settlement, the conflict with Tehran is inching closer toward a point of no return, where Israel might decide that the circumstances warrant a unilateral attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Although there are other scenarios under which Israel may decide to attack Iran, chief among them is Israel’s fear that Iran is close to reaching what Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak terms, “a zone of immunity.” Under such circumstances and given more time, Iran would be in a position to store much of its previous enriched uranium, as well as its high quality centrifuges, deep inside the mountain base of Fordow, thus becoming completely immune from aerial bombardment.
This objective, which Tehran is hard at work in seeking to achieve, limits how much time Israel would have before it acts. This Israeli concern makes the continuing diplomatic efforts coupled with sanctions advocated by the Obama administration unviable options and might in fact be extremely risky to pursue. The Netanyahu government is absolutely convinced that Iran will continue to play for time as it has over the past several years, during which time Tehran has considerably advanced its nuclear program in defiance of the IAEA and in spite of severe sanctions.