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Netanyahu Prepared To Go It Alone On Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

In an exclusive interview on March 31 with "The Atlantic," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel could go it alone and attack Iran if the country went nuclear.

Netanyahu told Jeffrey Goldberg that if "the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying."

Should the Iranian government -- a "messianic apocalyptic cult," Netanyahu told Goldberg -- control atomic bombs, Israel does not need U.S. approval to launch an attack. One Netanyahu adviser told "The Atlantic" that the "problem [with attacking Iran] is not military capability."

Netanyahu's comments came days after an article by Seymour Hersh appeared in "The New Yorker" with reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney privately told the Israelis that Obama was "pro-Palestinian" and might not support their policies.

Reactions to the interview have been mixed: CBS's Tucker Reals can't decide if Netanyahu is bluffing.

In "The Atlantic" piece, Goldberg admits the threat may be a "tremendous" bluff but that as former commandoes, Netanyahu and Company are "men predisposed to action."

Reals calls the conversation "an interesting preview" of new dialogue between Washington and Israel.

"Haaretz's" Aluf Benn is more skeptical, citing experts in Israel's security-strategic community who think an attack against Iran is "too big a mission for Israel" and that sending in an air force requires U.S. cooperation.

Over at Talking Points Memo, M.J. Rosenberg writes that, "Obama needs to get on the phone and let Netanyahu know" that "Israel cannot act unilaterally."

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, author of "After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy," writes in Asia Times that Israel's position "muddies" Obama's promised "new beginning" with Iran.

And former Israeli diplomat Zvi Shtauber, speaking at Harvard University, said that he thought Israel would only consider an attack when Iran was "within the striking distance" of nuclear capability.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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