Obama to House Dems: If Sanctions Fail, Israel Will Likely Strike Iran

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, met with House Democrats yesterday, talking about his trip abroad and his observations.

Obama told the caucus, according to an attendee, "Nobody said this to me directly but I get the feeling from my talks that if the sanctions don’t work Israel is going to strike Iran." Others in the room recall this as well.

The notion that Israel is preparing for such an action against Iran's myriad nuclear facilities is not new, with conjecture heating up in May after an Israeli military exercise featuring 150 aircraft flying almost a thousand miles over the Mediterranean Sea in what was seen as a dress rehearsal for an air strike. Now that the Bush administration is engaged in diplomatic efforts with Iran, many Israeli officials are worried the US is getting soft on Iran, prompting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to travel to the US this week to meet with  Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Barak's office released a statement saying "a policy that consists of keeping all options on the table must be maintained."

Another attendee at the meeting of House Democrats recalls Obama saying that the good news is that Obama got the sense that the Arab states understand just how destabilizing a nuclear Iran would be -- a "game changer," Obama said -- because they know Israel would probably strike and that would be bad for everyone.

A senior adviser to Obama told ABC News that Obama was heartened to hear Jordan's King Abdullah share that view with him in their private meeting.

The Obama campaign had no comment.

- jpt

UPDATE: Obama campaign spokesperson Wendy Morigi provided the following statement:

"Senator Obama has always said that Iran must end its illicit nuclear program.  He has advocated tough, direct engagement, backed by stronger sanctions to pressure Iran.  And, he has made it perfectly clear that Tehran should not wait for a new administration to reach agreement to end its program.”

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