By Patrick Seale
President George W Bush is coming under enormous pressure from Israel - and from Israel's neoconservative friends inside and outside the US administration - to harden still further his stance toward Iran. They want the American president to commit himself to bombing Iran if it does not give up its program of uranium enrichment - and to issue a clear ultimatum to Tehran that he is prepared to do so. They argue that mere rhetoric - such as Bush's recent diatribe, in which he compared Iran to al-Qaeda - is not enough, and might even be counter-productive, as it might encourage the Iranians to think that America's bark is worse than its bite.
Hard-liners in Israel and the United States believe that only military action, or the credible threat of it, will now prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, with all that this would mean in terms of Israel's security and the balance of power in the strategically vital Middle East.
Fears that Bush might succumb to this Israeli and neoconservative pressure is beginning to cause serious alarm in Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, Paris, Rome and other world capitals where, as if to urge caution on Washington, political leaders are increasingly speaking out in favor of dialogue with Tehran and against the use of military force."