The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

Talks in Geneva on Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram are trig­ger­ing fears within U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that Is­rael is har­den­ing its stance on Iran and could con­duct a mil­i­tary at­tack to stave off what the Jewish state be­lieves is a de­lay­ing tac­tic for Tehran to buy time to build nu­clear weapons.

The clear­est in­di­ca­tor of grow­ing Is­raeli con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to de­fense of­fi­cials, is the re­cent large-scale Is­raeli air force drill Tues­day in the north­ern part of the coun­try. The ex­er­cises along the north­ern bor­der and over the Mediter­ranean were con­sid­ered un­usu­ally large.

An Is­raeli de­fense source told Is­rael’s Walla! news out­let: “Changes have re­cently oc­curred in the Mid­dle East. The IDF [Is­raeli De­fense Force] is pre­par­ing for those changes in both the closer and more dis­tant perime­ters, and yes­ter­day’s ex­er­cise was in­tended to sig­nal the IDF’s se­ri­ous in­ten­tion of deal­ing with those prob­lems and thwart­ing them.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, Is­raeli air forces con­ducted long-range fighter ex­er­cises last week in­volv­ing in-flight re­fu­el­ing prac­tice.

The talks in Geneva have pro­duced press re­ports that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is pre­par­ing to ease sanc­tions on Iran fol­low­ing con­cil­ia­tory state­ments by Ira­nian Prime Min­is­ter Hasan Rouhani at the U.N. last month.

Is­raeli Min­is­ter of Strate­gic and In­tel­li­gence Af­fairs Yu­val Steinitz, a con­fi­dant of Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, said Wed­nes­day that Is­rael would wel­come an agree­ment to end Iran’s nu­clear arms pro­gram. But Is­rael re­mains con­cerned that “Geneva 2013 could be­come Mu­nich 1938,” Mr. Steinitz said, re­fer­ring to the agree­ment ap­peas­ing Nazi Ger­many’s seizure of Czech ter­ri­tory in the months be­fore the out­break of World War II.

Bill Gertz can be reached at @ Bil­lGertz.

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