Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tension over Iran Reaches New Peak World Leaders Unsure If Israel Will Carry out Threatened Strikes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tension over Iran Reaches New Peak World Leaders Unsure If Israel Will Carry out Threatened Strikes

Article excerpt

JERUSALEM -- For the first time in nearly two decades of escalating tensions over Iran's nuclear program, world leaders are genuinely concerned that an Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic could be imminent -- an action that many fear might trigger a wider war, terrorism and global economic havoc.

High-level foreign dignitaries, including the U.N. chief and the head of the American military, have stopped in Israel in recent weeks, urging leaders to give the diplomatic process more time to work. Israel seems unmoved, and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has reportedly concluded that an Israeli attack on Iran is likely in the coming months.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday he does not think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran, telling NBC News in an interview that the United States was "going to be sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this -- hopefully diplomatically."

Despite harsh economic sanctions and international pressure, Iran is refusing to abandon its nuclear program, which it insists is purely civilian, and threatening Israel and the West.

It's beginning to cause jitters in world capitals and financial markets.

"Of course I worry that there will be a military conflict," Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said in a magazine interview last week. He said Britain was "straining every single sinew to resolve this through a combination of pressure and engagement," rather than military action.

Is Israel bluffing? Israeli leaders have been claiming Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons since the early 1990s, and defense officials have issued a series of ever-changing estimates on how close Iran is to the bomb. But the saber-rattling has become much more direct and vocal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who frequently draws parallels between modern-day Iran and Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust, announced plans Sunday to visit the U. …

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