Indyk: Without an agreement, Iran war in 2013 likely

Former US ambassador to Israel says every effort must be made to reach a deal with Iran, says Obama, Romney and Netanyahu will not set red lines "because it locks you in."

September 17, 2012 10:49
2 minute read.
Martin Indyk

Martin Indyk 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Without a negotiated solution over the Iranian nuclear program, 2013 will likely see a military confrontation with Iran, former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"There is still time, perhaps six months, even by Prime Minister Netanyahu's own time table to try to see if a negotiated solution can be worked out," Indyk said on the morning news show. "I'm pessimistic about that. If that doesn't work out -- and we need to make every effort, exhaust every chance that it does work -- then I am afraid that 2013 is going to be a year in which we're going to have a military confrontation with Iran."

In recent weeks, rhetoric over the possibility of a military strike against Iran ballooned as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu demanded that the US set "red lines" for Iran on its progressing nuclear program, and US President Barack Obama refused.

"While there's still time, there is not a lot of time, and I don't think the difference between Netanyahu and Obama on this is that great in terms of the President's commitment not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons," said Indyk, who served as US Ambassador to Israel twice and is currently Director for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"The idea of putting out a public red line, in effect, issuing an ultimatum, is something that no president would do. You noticed Governor Romney is not putting out a red line. Senator McCain didn't either, and neither is Bibi Netanyahu for that matter in terms of Israel's own actions because it locks you in," he said.

While Netanyahu's comments on Iran have previously brought speculation that a unilateral Israeli strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities is imminent, remarks he made to The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview seemed to suggest that he would continue working to form a wider consensus on the issue.

In the interview published on Friday, Netanyahu put the need to place red lines on Iran on a continuum that stretches back nearly two decades.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

Netanyahu recalled that he first sounded the alarm about a nuclear Iran 16 years ago, when few others were doing so, and then they joined in. He mentioned that he started talking about the need for economic sanctions against Iran when no one else was on board, and others joined in. And now, he said, we are in the “red lines phase.”

“I hope others will join,” he said. “It takes time to persuade people of the wisdom of this policy.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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