via Lobe Log

According to former top advisers to George W. Bush and Barak Obama, the United States will preventively strike Iran in 2013 if no diplomatic settlement is reached over its nuclear program. From the Times of Israel:

During an on-stage discussion with Dennis Ross and Elliott Abrams halfway through the evening, Washington Institute director Robert Satloff asked the former officials, “Will either America or Israel employ preventive military action against Iran’s nuclear program – yes or no?”

The two replied in unison, “yes.”

“Will this happen in 2013?” Satloff pressed.

“Yes,” said Ross.

“Yes, I agree,” added Abrams.

Last week the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) said Iran could be referred to the United Nations Security Council if it had “not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA” by March 2013. This caused Micah Zenko to speculate about a deadline for a US attack, while others suggested the path is simply being prepared for another resolution.

Some well-informed Iran watchers are saying that Ross and Abrams’ prediction is on par with that of White House insiders. Whether that’s true or not, it’s undeniable that pressure will be very high on Obama to ‘do more’ if no headway is made with Iran in the next 6 months.

But according to Zenko, deadlines, while helpful on the pressure-front, can also be detrimental:

Setting a March deadline provides some certainty and perhaps coercive leverage to compel Iran to cooperate with the IAEA. But declaring deadlines also places U.S. “credibility” on the line, generating momentum to use force even if there is no new actionable intelligence that Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear weapon. Based on what we know right now, that would be a strategic miscalculation.