Unnamed senior Pentagon officials told ABC News there is an “increasing likelihood” Israel will attack Iran, and soon.
The official identified two “red lines” that could trigger an Israeli offensive. The first is tied to when Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility produces enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. According to the latest U.S. and Israeli intelligence assessments, that is likely to happen sometime in 2009, and could happen by the end of this year.
“The red line is not when they get to that point, but before they get to that point,” the official said. “We are in the window of vulnerability.”
The second red line is connected to when Iran acquires the SA-20 air defense system it is buying from Russia. The Israelis may want to strike before that system – which would make an attack much more difficult – is put in place.
Some Pentagon officials also worry that Israel may be determined to attack before a new U.S. president, who may be less supportive, is sworn in next January.
For more on that, read this piece by JTA’s Ron Kampeas.