- (Photo: Reuters/Caren Firouz)
In an effort to contain Iran's growing nuclear program, the European Union announced Monday its intent to implement an embargo on Iranian oil as well as increase trade restrictions. Meanwhile, experts say it is likely that Israel, threatened by such a nuclear program, may feel pressured to attack if the international community cannot keep the Iranian regime's nuclear aspirations in check.
These new restrictions from the EU place an intensified amount of pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear productivity. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all expressed concern over Iran's secret nuclear program, which Iran claims is used for creating nuclear energy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Department of the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner released a statement Monday, supporting the E.U.'s decision to place an embargo on Iranian oil.
Clinton and Geithner agreed that these heightened sanctions on Iran, along with previous ones implemented by the United States, "will sharpen the choice for Iran's leaders and increase their cost of defiance of basic international obligations."
Israel, portrayed by the Iranian regime as an oppressor of the Palestinians and a foe to peace in the Middle East, has also faced further isolation from Egypt, with which it shares a peace treaty. Egypt's recently organized Parliament, dominated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, has repeatedly announced that the country will not be renewing its peace treaty with Israel, which has created a "cold peace" between the two countries since 1979.
Egypt has served as an important ally to Israel in the past, as its power has enabled Israel to focus its defense on northern boundaries and cut its defense budget, thus greatly bolstering its economy, according to observers.
Critics now worry that the continued diplomatic isolation in both Iran and Israel will worsen political relations in the Middle East. Instability may make Israel feel more threatened, and therefore more likely to attack Iran.
Robert Ash, Senior Litigation Counsel for National Security Law at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), told The Christian Post that Israel's minute size, accompanied by its hostile neighbors, forces the country to feel a greater national security threat.
"Israel cannot afford to permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. At some point, it will feel obligated to act against Iran," Ash told CP.
"Even the more moderate Arab regimes in the region fear an Iranian nuclear weapon and would tacitly approve of Israeli action against Iran's nuclear weapons program," Ash insisted.
Although there is speculation that Israel may be preparing a unilateral military move against Iran, the Jewish state denies such claims.
Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak denie the rumors, telling Israeli Army Radio that Israel's plans to strike Iran's nuclear program are "very far off."
U.S. Defense Secretary Leo Panetta announced in October that Israel's growing Isolation would not be beneficial to the security of the country.
"But the question you have to ask: Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you're isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena? Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength," Panetta told reporters in October, according to thee Guardian.
As some critics argue, perhaps Israel's physical retaliation against Iran has already begun. A recent string of "sabotage attacks" in Iran have caused some media outlets and political analysts to suggest that Israel is perhaps behind these covert attacks.
The most recent attack happened earlier this month, when an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated by a motorcyclist. CNN reports reveal that analysts following the Iran issue believe Israel was behind this attack.
Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai reportedly wrote on his Facebook page Jan. 11 that although he had no idea who committed the assassination, "I certainly don't shed a tear."
As Ash of the ACLJ tells CP, Israel will continue seeking stability amid the Middle East's deteriorating political situation, and the country's "response calculus surely includes the military option."
"Unless and until Western Europe and the United States act to halt the rise of jihadist regimes surrounding Israel, the threat of war becomes increasingly likely," he said.