According to Axios, senior Israeli officials say the Israel Defense Forces have been instructed in recent weeks to prepare for a potential U.S. military strike against Iran before President Donald Trump leaves the White House.
The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The IDF’s preparedness measures relate to possible Iranian retaliation against Israel directly or through Iranian proxies in Syria, Gaza and Lebanon, the Israeli officials said.
Axios noted that The New York Times reported last week that “Trump raised the possibility of attacking Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz in a meeting with senior members of his national security team.”
However, top officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, warned Trump about the risks associated with such a move and reportedly convinced the president to look at other measures.
Pompeo visited Israel and several Gulf countries last week to discuss Iran. State Department officials traveling with Pompeo told reporters “all options are on the table.”
While Pompeo was in the Gulf, U.S. Central Command announced that B-52 strategic bombers conducted a “short-notice, long-range mission into the Middle East to deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies.” That was seen as another signal to Iran.
Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran’s leader and a possible candidate in Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, told AP last week that a U.S. military strike against Iran could set off a “full-fledged war” in the Middle East.
Senior Israeli officials told Axios that “they expect Israel will get prior notice ahead of any U.S. strike against Iran.” However, they said they are “concerned that won’t be sufficient to fully prepare. Thus the order to the IDF to start taking preparatory steps under the assumption that such a scenario is possible.”
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