JERUSALEM – An Israeli official said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to persuade his Cabinet to authorize a military strike against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program – a discussion that comes as Israel successfully tests a missile believed capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to Iran.
It remained unclear whether Israel was genuinely poised to strike or if it was saber-rattling to prod the international community into taking a tougher line on Iran. Israeli leaders have long hinted at a military option, but they always seemed mindful of the practical difficulties, the likelihood of a furious counterstrike and the risk of regional mayhem.
The developments unfolded as the International Atomic Energy Agency is due to focus on the Iranian program at a meeting later this month. The West wants to set a deadline for Iran to start cooperating with an agency probe of suspicions that Tehran is secretly experimenting with components of a weapons program.
Israeli leaders have said they favor a diplomatic solution, but recent days have seen a spate of Israeli media reports on a possible strike, accompanied by veiled threats from top politicians.
In a speech to parliament this week, Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a “dire threat” to the world and “a grave, direct threat on us, too.”