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Israel blames Iran for attacks on its diplomats

Israel put its foreign missions on high alert Monday following near simultaneous bomb attacks on its diplomats that it blamed on Iran, adding to already high tensions between the two over Iran’s nuclear program.

The blast in India’s capital of New Delhi set a car on fire and injured four people, including the wife of a diplomat at the Israeli Embassy. A bomb in Tblisi, Georgia, was discovered and defused.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to defend Israel, saying Israel had already thwarted recent attempts against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan and Thailand.

“Iran is behind these attacks and it is the largest terror exporter in the world,” Netanyahu told lawmakers from his Likud Party.

The attempts on Israeli lives come amid indications that Iran is ramping up production of weapons-grade uranium, prompting Israel to possibly attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if sanctions fail to end the program.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said recently he believes Israel may decide to attack Iran within the next few months to destroy facilities that U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said are “moving on a path” toward a weapon. Clapper has said he did not know whether Iran has made the decision to weaponize its program.

Jonathan Rynhold, of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs at Bar Ilan University, said he does not believe the attacks Monday would have any impact on Israel’s decisions on striking Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel’s calculations “are based primarily on whether Israel’s military feels capable of seriously setting back Iran’s nuclear program,” and on the messages coming from the American administration, Rynhold said.

Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes. Iranian lawmaker Avaz Heidarpour, was quoted by Iran’s Mehr news agency as saying Netanyahu’s allegations were an attempt to justify future operations against Iran. “It’s very likely that the Zionist regime is paving the way to carry out an assassination abroad or hit inside Iran. So, they are making preparations for that,” he said.

CIA Director David Petraeus recently testified before the Senate that Iran’s uranium-enrichment activities already surpass what is needed for a peaceful nuclear program.

Monday’s attacks are the latest in a string of attempted attacks against Israelis and Jews living abroad that Israeli officials blame on Iran and Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Iran blames Israel for the assassination of scientists working to improve Iran’s nuclear capability, and it has repeatedly threatened to attack Israel with weapons of mass destruction.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said last week that his country will “help any nation or any group (that) confronts the Zionist regime. We have no fear expressing this.”

Some Middle East analysts warned that the situation between the two is escalating. “What’s still not clear is how far that’s going to go,” Michael Adler, an expert on Iran at the Washington, D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson Center, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, a non-profit news group. “If Iran manages to kill Israelis, it could invite an escalated response from Israel.”

Source: USA today

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