The administration of US President Barack Obama is moving ahead with plans to increase its military threat against Iran in an effort to convince Israel not to unilaterally strike the Islamic Republic and to force Tehran to take negotiations on its nuclear program more seriously, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The report came after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the world was not setting a clear enough ultimatum to Iran to force the regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
According to the Times report, new steps to be implemented by the Obama administration include naval exercises and the placement of new anti-missile systems in the Persian Gulf, as well as a harsher clamp down on Iranian oil revenue.
"The administration is also considering new declarations by President Obama about what might bring about American military action, as well as covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected," the Times reported.
Senior officials in the Obama administration are divided on how hard of a line to take against Iran publicly with the US presidential election just over two months away. Republican candidate Mitt Romney has attacked Obama for not doing enough to thwart Iran's drive for nuclear weapons and he has intimated a readiness to attack the Islamic Republic over the issue.
According to the Times, some Obama advisers are pushing the US president to make stronger declarations of his readiness to take military action against Iran in order to show Israel support, while others in the administration are wary that Israel is attempting to make Obama commit to a military conflict before it is necessary. The Obama administration has held that there is still time for diplomatic efforts and sanctions meant to stop Iran's nuclear drive to work.
Netanyahu said Sunday that the latest IAEA report detailing that Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges it has enriching uranium in its underground bunker at Fordow proves that sanctions are ineffective. The prime minister has said in private meetings that a strike against Iran would be worthwhile, even if it only set the Islamic Republic's nuclear program back a few years.