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By Skeeter Sanders
President Bush has informed Israeli government officials that he may look favorably on a pre-emptive military strike by the Jewish state on Iran's nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran to end its nuclear development program fail, a British newspaper reported Sunday.
The president gave an “amber light” -- one step shy of full approval -- to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range jet bombers, despite strong opposition by top American military commanders and widespread public concern that the U.S. is willing to risk "catastrophic" military, political and economic consequences if an attack on Iran is carried out, a senior Defense Department official told The Sunday Times of London.
“Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,” the official said. But he added that the Israelis were warned not to expect any assistance from U.S. military forces if they proceed with an attack and that they will be barred from utilizing American military bases in Iraq.
The newspaper reported, however, that it was unlikely that Bush would give his full approval to an Israeli strike without "irrefutable evidence of lethal Iranian hostility." It quoted the senior Pentagon official as saying that Israel had not yet presented Bush with a convincing military proposal. “If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green,” he said.
The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, assessing last week's test firings of Iranian missiles -- including intermediate-range missiles capable of striking Israel -- concluded that while "provocative and poorly judged," did not represent an immediate threat to the Jewish state or to U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, The Sunday Times reported.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that she saw the launches as “evidence that the missile threat is not an imaginary one,” -- although the impact of the Iranian stunt was diminished the following day when it became clear that a photograph purporting to show the missiles being launched had been falsified.
Iran-Israel War Could Trigger Second Great Depression. . .
“It’s really all down to the Israelis,” the newspaper quoted its Pentagon source -- who spoke on condition of anonymity -- as saying. “This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn’t believe that anything but force will deter Iran.”
On the other hand, any attack on Iran by the Israelis would almost certainly trigger a "massive" retaliation against the Jewish state by the Islamic republic and have catastrophic consequences for the rest of the world.
Nowhere would those consequences be felt more keenly than in the already-volatile oil markets -- sending fuel prices rocketing to unimaginable heights and sending the world economy into an uncontrollable tailspin -- perhaps leading toward a second Great Depression.
Abdalla Salem El-Badri, secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, told The Sunday Times that a military conflict involving either the U.S. or Israel against Iran -- the world's second-largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia -- would severely reduce or even shut down Iranian production and oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz from the Persian Gulf.
That, in turn, would trigger an immediate and “unlimited” skyrocketing of world oil prices far beyond what the world economy can absorb -- setting off a chain of events plunging the economy into collapse.
. . .And Endanger U.S. Troops Throughout Persian Gulf Region