US Fears Israel Will Hit Iran Without Warning

Ehud Barak warns, 'Later will be too late'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2012 7:55 AM CST
Leon Panetta is escorted by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak during an arrival ceremony at the Ministry of Defense on October 3, 2011 in Tel Aviv, Israel.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Obama administration is worried that Israel is on the verge of launching a military strike against Iran—and that Israel plans to give the US little to no warning or say in the matter, sources tell the Washington Post. Ehud Barak certainly reinforced that idea yesterday. "Whoever says 'later' may find that later is too late," the Israeli Defense minister said. (The Post notes he switched from Hebrew to English when saying the words, "Later is too late.") Leon Panetta, meanwhile, declined to refute a report that he was worried about an Israeli attack.

US officials have been urging patience behind closed doors, but Israel has seemed increasingly impatient, saying it will act unless a breakthrough is made in a matter of months. What's more, Israel "has refused to assure Washington that prior notice would be provided," says one former State Department official who recently met with the Israelis. The US fears that an Israeli attack could push Iran to retaliate against US interests; some officials have been hinting that the US might not jump into the fray unless Americans are threatened. (Today's Iran-related concerns don't end there: Click to read about new US fears that the country is cozying up to al-Qaeda.)

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