European official: Israeli strike likely if sanctions fail
The official said Wednesday, on a visit to Washington to wrap up a fact-finding mission, that an Israeli strike was "in the air" after meeting with senior Iran policy officials in Middle Eastern and Western capitals, including Washington, to discuss among other issues Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.
However, the official conveyed an impression that Iran was likely to buckle under to enhanced sanctions. Enhancements that the Europeans - including possibly Russia - might favor would target Iran's banking sector and the export of refined petroleum to Iran.
The official also said that a face-saving offer that Iran might accept would be to allow the Islamic Republic to maintain its current levels of uranium enrichment as long as a probative inspections regime was maintained.
The official said there was sympathy in Europe for Israel's perception that an Iran with nuclear weapons posed an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Were diplomatic outreach and sanctions to fail, the official said, an Israeli strike would likely not raise "enormous negative reactions" or even "outright condemnation" in Europe.