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European official: Israeli strike likely if sanctions fail

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Israeli strike on Iran is likely if sanctions fail, a senior official from a European country said.

On a visit to Washington to wrap up a fact-finding mission, the official said Wednesday at an off-the-record breakfast with journalists that an Israeli strike was "in the air." The official, who declined to be identified, spoke at a European country’s embassy in Washington after meeting with senior Iran policy officials in Middle Eastern and Western capitals, including Washington, to discuss Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, among other issues.

However, the official conveyed an impression that Iran was likely to buckle under enhanced sanctions. The Europeans and possibly Russia might favor stricter measures that would target Iran’s banking sector and the export of refined petroleum to Iran.

The official also said that a face-saving offer that Iran might accept would be to allow the Islamic Republic to maintain its current levels of uranium enrichment as long as an inspections regime was maintained.

The official said there was sympathy in Europe for Israel’s perception that an Iran with nuclear weapons posed an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Were diplomatic outreach and sanctions to fail, the official said, an Israeli strike likely would not raise "enormous negative reactions" or even "outright condemnation" in Europe.

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