By GARETH PORTER and JIM LOBE
"A recent statement by the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, that Israel may decide to attack Iranian nuclear sites has been followed by indications of a debate within the Barack Obama administration on whether Israel's repeated threats to carry out such a strike should be used to gain leverage in future negotiations with Tehran.
In the latest twist, Vice President Joseph Biden, who has been put in charge of the administration’s non-proliferation agenda, appeared to reject the idea. "I don't believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu would [launch a strike]," he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday. "I think he would be ill-advised to do that."
His remarks suggested that any proposal to exploit the threat of an Israeli attack as part of a "good cop, bad cop" tactic with Iran would run into stiff opposition within the administration, since it would rest on the credibility that the threat was real and that the U.S. would not actively oppose its being carried out......
Bush reportedly feared that such a strike would further destabilise Iraq and expose U.S. troops there to retaliation, according to his top Middle East adviser, Elliott Abrams, who has recently argued that the those dangers have since been significantly mitigated. In the one cautionary quotation that the Journal chose to include in its editorial about Mullen’s views on a possible Israeli attack on Iran, the JCS chief noted that Tehran’s ability to retaliate in Iraq "has not maxed out at all." "