A report by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations urged the
Bush administration to stop any Israeli attempt to strike Iran's nuclear
facilities. The council warned that such an Israeli attack would be blamed on
the United States and hurt its interests in the region.
"Since Washington would be blamed for any unilateral Israeli military
strike, the United States should, in any case, make it quite clear to Israel
that U.S. interests would be adversely affected by such a move," the report,
entitled "Iran: Time for a New Approach," said.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the United States supports Israel's right to
what he termed weapons of deterrence, regarded as a reference to nuclear
weapons, Middle East Newsline reported. He said the United States was also pressing Iran to halt its
nuclear weapons program.
"Israel faces an existential threat, and it must be able to defend
itself by itself by preserving its deterrent capability," Sharon said. "We
have received here a clear American position that says in other words that
Israel must not be touched when it comes to its deterrent capability."
An air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would incur civilian
casualties, the report said. It pointed out that many of Iran's nuclear
facilities have been located in or near urban centers.
Israel has never directly threatened Iran's nuclear facilities. But
the Sharon government has warned that it would not
allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal.
The U.S. report, drafted by an independent task force sponsored by the
council, said Washington should resolve concerns over Iran's nuclear weapons
program by coordinating with the European Union. But the council ruled out
any military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"In addition, any military effort to eliminate Iranian weapons
capabilities runs the significant risk of reinforcing Teheran's desire to
acquire a nuclear deterrent and of provoking nationalist passions in defense
of that very course," the task force said. "It would most likely generate
also hostile Iranian initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The report also said direct U.S. efforts to overthrow the Iranian
clerical regime would not succeed. The council said the regime could
eventually provide greater liberties to its people.
"Despite considerable political flux and popular dissatisfaction, Iran
is not on the verge of another revolution," the report, entitled ". The
current Iranian government appears to be durable and likely to persist in
power for the short- and even medium-term. However, Iran's generational
shift and prevailing popular frustration with the government portend the
eventual transformation to a more democratic political order in the long
term. That process is too deeply entrenched in IranŐs political history and
social structure to be derailed or even long delayed."
To read see full report, click here. [Long pdf file which requires some time to download]