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The high stakes of the Obama Netanyahu talks

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The near-term fate of Iran's nuclear sites may hang on the results of talks taking place now at the White House. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with President Barack Obama as they discuss what to do about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - President Obama has tried to quell the rhetoric by saying there has been too much "loose talk" of war with Iran. Obama has not ruled out the possibility of staging a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, but he has called for more time to allow sanctions to work.
 
Israel, whose military capability is less substantial, is concerned that Iran is nearing a point of no return with their nuclear program beyond which the development of a working nuclear weapon will be easy to accomplish.
 
Iran represents an existential threat to Israel, with that country's leadership assuming a strong anti-Israeli stance in both rhetoric and political action.
 
The US however is very concerned about the collateral effects of a strike on Iran. In addition to political opposition, particularly from China and Russia, analysts believe that Iran would retaliate against both the US and Israel by all means available, including the use of terrorist attacks. Such a conflict could escalate into a full-blown conflict that could last for a protracted period.
 
To prevent a feared military quagmire, the Obama administration has publicly thrown its support-and hopes, behind strong economic sanctions that are already making daily life difficult in Iran. Iran has retaliated by threatening to cut off oil supplies to nations that relay on Iranian crude.
 
The recent spike in oil prices has also been blamed on tension with Iran, although that market is being driven more by speculation than political and economic reality.

The UN has also stated they have "serious concerns" regarding the state of Iran's nuclear program.

While Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, the fact remains that country is taking its program underground by moving critical components into bomb-proof bunkers, and refusing to allow neutral inspectors into the facilities to verify that no weaponsization is taking place. Without those assurances, political leaders in the US and Israel have no choice but to take Iran seriously on the matter of nuclear proliferation.
 
The gravity of today's talks cannot be underestimated. Ultimately, Israel is confronted with a difficult set of choices: They can hope and pray that sanctions eventually work, or strike Iran while they can and risk the quagmire, or become dependent on the US to do the job for them later. None of these options is particularly appealing to anyone.

The leaders are expected to comment on the talks later this evening.

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