WASHINGTON (JTA) — A potential Israeli military strike to halt Iran’s nuclear program could cause a regional war and draw the United States into the conflict, according to a simulation played out by the U.S. military.
A classified war game called “Internal Look” held earlier this month forecasted that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could draw the United States into a larger regional war that would leave hundreds of Americans dead, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The New York Times wrote that the reaction from the simulation could give credence to the arguments made in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence agencies warning about the consequences to the U.S. of an Israeli military strike.
The exercise was conducted by U.S. Central Command, which holds this planning exercise twice a year to assess how it can respond to potential conflicts in the region.
The debate has raged over the impact that a military strike would have in setting back Iran’s nuclear program. The Times report indicates that an initial Israeli attack would only set back the Iranian nuclear program by about a year, while successive American strikes would delay the program by less than two years.
Separately, Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg News reported Monday that Israelis are confident in a successful strike on Iran’s nuclear program.
Goldberg outlined that Israeli officials believe even a strike on six to eight Iranian nuclear facilities would not lead to “all-out war,” while the blowback from President Obama on a military strike would not be major because the president “has so deeply internalized the argument that Israel has the sovereign right to defend itself against a threat to its existence.”
Goldberg concluded that “the Israeli political leadership increasingly believes that an attack on Iran will not be the disaster many American officials, and some ex-Israeli security officials, fear it will be.”
The two reports come amid the backdrop of Monday’s meeting between the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.
In a message posted on his official Facebook page, Dempsey emphasized that he and Gantz “spent much of our time today talking about growing concerns with Iran and Syria.”
“I’m glad we had the opportunity to discuss issues of importance to our two countries," Dempsey said. "Regular and candid dialogue is critical as we face common threats and challenges.”