WASHINGTON -- Israel's major allies in the West are working hard to talk it out of a unilateral military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, arguing forcefully that an attack ultimately would strengthen, not weaken, the regime in Tehran.
The United States is leading the persuasion initiative, even though Washington largely has concluded that outside argument will have little effect on Israeli decision-making.
Iran's regime has said it wants to extinguish the Jewish state, and the West accuses it of assembling the material and know-how to build a nuclear bomb. Israel fears that Iran is fast approaching a point at which a limited military strike no longer would be enough to head off an Iranian bomb.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that the world increasingly is ready to consider a military strike against Iran if economic sanctions don't persuade Tehran to give up suspect parts of its nuclear program. Iran has said its program is for peaceful purposes.
Israeli officials asserted at a security conference Thursday that Iran already has produced enough enriched uranium to eventually build four rudimentary nuclear bombs, and was even developing missiles capable of reaching the U.S.
Much of the agenda appeared aimed at strengthening Israel's case for a strike, if it chose to make one.
President Barack Obama maintains that the U.S. is reserving the right to attack Iran if it ever feels it must, but an Israeli strike on Iran is more likely than a U.S. one in the near term.