As United States and Israel grow increasingly concerned over Iran’s nuclear program, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is cautioning that a pre-emptive strike by Israel could spell trouble for America.
“If Israel does a unilateral strike, this could be a real problem for the national security interests of the United States,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said today on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
This statement comes days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed concern that Israel would bomb Iran in an unattributed comment run in a column in the Washington Post. Panetta while not directly quoted by the columnist, has not denied the accuracy of the column and the general consensus is that Panetta does believe Israel is ready to bomb Iran. Rogers said recent tension between the United States and Israel has lead to breakdown of trust when it comes to dealing with Iran.
“Israel has been a little bit distrustful of the United States and I think that’s caused a little bit of friction,” Rogers said.
Iran caused quite a stir earlier in January when it announced that it had enriched the country’s first nuclear fuel rod. Those rods could be used to create a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency also released a report in November that suggested Iran is making progress in its program to create nuclear weapons.
While U.S. leaders have shown continued restraint when talking about Iran, the public largely supports military action against Iran. According to a December 2011 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 54 percent of Americans said that they would support attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, while 38 percent said that we should not.
Only two of the Republican presidential candidates support a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear sites. Rick Santorum said that as president he would not only bomb the nuclear sites with airstrikes but also make it public that we were doing so, while Newt Gingrich expressed support for a plan that included Israeli cooperation.
For now, the United States and several of its allies have imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran. Rogers said he believes the sanctions are having a real impact.
“It’s working in the sense that it is affecting every sector of their economy,” he said. “It’s impacting average Iranians in their daily lives. Inflation is just rampant. The fact that they’re having a hard time getting access to currency for transactions is starting to be a real problem.”