American officials have said that a classified war simulation that was held this month to examine the results of an Israeli attack on Iran showed that the strike could lead to a regional war, drawing the United States into the conflict, according to The New York Times.
The war game, called "Internal Look," showed that an Israeli strike against Iran and retaliation from Iran could pull the US into the conflict and leave hundreds of Americans dead. The US would also likely retaliate by carrying out its own strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.
The officials insisted that the war game was not a rehearsal for military action and the scenario's results were not the only possible outcome in the real world, according to The Times.
The results of the game raised concerns that America would not be able to stay uninvolved if Israel's tensions with Iran escalated. Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands US forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, reportedly told aides that an Israeli strike would have dire consequences for the region and for US forces.
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Bloomberg reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely still leaning towards a pre-emptive strike, on the premise that Iranian citizens would overthrow the unpopular regime. Israeli officials also might believe that Iran would cover up a strike that took out six to eight Iranian facilities, like the Syrian government did with the Israeli attacks in 2007 on its nuclear facilities, rather than retaliate.
Reuters reported that though three-quarters of Israelis are opposed to Israel striking Iran, jitteriness about the war has not spread to protests by the Israeli populace. So far, protests against conflict with Iran have taken the muted form of anti-war exhibits, newspaper ads and a Facebook campaign stating that Israelis don't want to bomb Iran.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday that Israel viewed the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran with greater urgency than the rest of the world, according to the Associated Press. The Israelis' most recent assessments suggest that Iran's nuclear facilities will soon be immune to the disruptions caused by a military strike.
Israel's President Shimon Peres sent Iranians a traditional greeting for the Persian new year on Monday, wishing for "peace and coexistence" despite the tensions between the two countries, said the AP.
On Tuesday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, "We do not have nuclear weapons and we will not build them but in the face of aggression from the enemies, whether from America or the Zionist regime, to defend ourselves we will attack on the same level as the enemies attack us," on national television, according to Reuters.
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