U.S. Sees Iran Attacks as Likely if Israel Strikes
American officials who have assessed the likely Iranian responses to any attack by Israel on its nuclear program believe that Iran would retaliate by launching missiles on Israel and terrorist-style attacks on United States civilian and military personnel overseas.
While a missile retaliation against Israel would be virtually certain, according to these assessments, Iran would also be likely to try to calibrate its response against American targets so as not to give the United States a rationale for taking military action that could permanently cripple Tehran’s nuclear program. “The Iranians have been pretty good masters of escalation control,” said Gen. James E. Cartwright, now retired, who as the top officer at Strategic Command and as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff participated in war games involving both deterrence and retaliation on potential adversaries like Iran. …
… Vali Nasr, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said Iran would “have to retaliate visibly against Israel to protect its image at home and in the region.” Along a second line of reprisals, Iran also “would try and keep the United States busy by escalating tensions in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
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