US and Iran may be at war in 2013, predicts former US envoy to Israel

Martin Indyk: If a negotiated solution on Iran cannot be achieved in the next six months, ‘we’re going to have a military confrontation’

Former US special envoy Martin Indyk. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)
Former US special envoy Martin Indyk. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

Former United States ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk gave a dire prediction of impending conflict between the US and Iran next year.

If a negotiated solution on Iran’s nuclear drive cannot be achieved in the next six months, “I am afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we’re going to have a military confrontation with Iran,” Indyk said on the CBS news show “Face the Nation” on Sunday

“There is still time, perhaps six months, even by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own time table to try to see if a negotiated solution can be worked out,” Indyk said, adding that “every effort and every chance” should be exhausted before employing a military strike against the Islamic Republic.

He also noted that Obama and Netanyahu don’t view the Iranian nuclear issue so differently. The US president is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he said.

Indyk joined other policy experts who discussed, among other Mideast concerns, Israel’s pressuring of the US to set “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program that, if crossed, would trigger military action.

It’s “unreasonable” for Israel to require the US to issue “red lines” for the Iranian nuclear program because such insistence is akin to an “ultimatum” — something “no president would do,” Indyk explained.

“If you noticed, Governor Romney is not putting out a red line; Senator McCain didn’t either. And neither is Bibi Netanyahu for that matter, in terms of Israel’s own actions,” he pointed out, “because it locks you in.”

Indyk’s comments come after weeks of increasing speculation about a possible Israeli strike on Iran. Israel has argued that due to its security concerns, it cannot afford to let Iran reach a “breakout” point in its nuclear program — meaning the stage at which manufacturing an atomic weapon becomes possible.

The Islamic Republic has refused to suspend its nuclear program, and IAEA inspectors have not been granted access to the country’s key nuclear sites. Iran’s nuclear chief was set to outline to a 155-country meeting of the IAEA Monday why it will not give up its uranium enrichment.

Indyk served as US ambassador to Israel twice. He is now the Director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

He told the program that “Israel is very nervous about the rapid deterioration in its neighborhood. The turmoil that we see from here, they see from a much closer perspective.”

Concern over Iran’s progress, over instability in Egypt potentially affecting the peace treaty and over the violence in Syria leading to an Islamist takeover, makes Israel “very nervous,” he said. “And that’s why the prime minister is coming out much more vocally than one might have expected in the midst of an election campaign here saying, you know, we need… reassurances. We need red lines against the Iranians.”


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