Analyst: Israel Closely Watching Iran Talks

Washington, July 11– Israel strongly prefers diplomatic action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but external factors may change that calculus, an Israeli national security expert said Wednesday.

Ehud Eilam, Ph.D. told listeners on a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project that he gave a 50% chance of Israel striking Iran, an estimation based on the uncertainty of whether a negotiated solution can be reached.

“Israel will wait to see if there’s any chance for a deal, and then wait to see if the U.S. takes action,” Eilam said. “If it’s clear the U.S. won’t do anything, in the upcoming months, Israel might do something itself.”

Eilam is an expert on Israel's national strategy and military doctrine. He was a private contractor for the Israeli Ministry of Defense where he conducted research in different branches of the Israeli military, and served as an academic instructor at the IDF's Staff and Command College.

The international community has so far failed to halt Iran’s enrichment of nuclear material - even as a July 1 European Union ban on Iranian oil imports is expected to drastically slash the country’s revenues, according to analysts.

Iranian envoys and the P5+1, the six-nation negotiating group comprising Russia, China, France, the U.K., the United States plus Germany, failed to make progress on the issue in Moscow in late June during the third round of major negotiations since January. The deputies of the two chief negotiators, EU foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, are scheduled to meet in Istanbul on July 24, Ashton’s spokesman said Monday.

Eilam said Israel has concerns over whether it has the technology to penetrate the fortifications of suspected Iranian nuclear sites such as Fordo. Even though Israel is improving technology to enable it to damage such infrastructure, Iran may still enter a “zone of immunity” that would make it impervious to attacks with current Israeli weaponry.

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