French Foreign Minister Bernard Kovchner talking to Israel's popular daily Haaretz last week warned that Israel would strike Iran before it was able to develop nuclear weapons. He reiterated the EU position that "Iran with an atomic bomb is unacceptable at all." Iran's repeated assurances that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and limited to civilian use to meet the growing energy needs has been dismissed by the US and EU and Iran has been subjugated to further sanctions by the UN Security Council. President Bush has termed the Iranian nuclear programme "a threat to global security" and vowed that it will not allow Iran to cross the Rubicon. As on other policy issues of international concern there is a total identity of views between Israel and the United States. On Iran's nuclear ambition, both have pursued covert policies of threats and ultimatums warning Iran of an imminent strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear installations. An attack on Iran by Israel is thus a common agenda. Bush has repeatedly warned that Iran will not be allowed to become a nuclear power. Israel's Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz echoed similar sentiments. "If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons we will attack it." Such brazen threats in total violation of inter-state relations and international commitments have been issue with impunity. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in a recent article in The New Yorker, disclosed that the White House has reached a decision on a broad bombing raid with targets including Iran's known and suspected nuclear facilities. There have also been reports of Israel with the blessing of the US, planning an attack on Iran's nuclear installations as it did on June 6, 1981 against Iraq. At the time Israeli war planes penetrated deep into Iraq and succeeded in destroying Osirak nuclear reactor. For Israel the June 6, 1981 aerial attack against Iraq provides an ideal precedence. The Israeli government had launched a sustained campaign to publicise its fears of the Iraqi Nuclear Programme. After the attack, Israel declared that under no circumstances would it "allow the enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our nation." Ariel Sharon then defence minister later explained Israel's doctrine of strategic deterrence. "We cannot afford the introduction of the nuclear weapon. For us it is not a question of balance of terror but a question of survival. We shall therefore have to prevent such threat from inception." To justify its Osirak attack Israel cited Article 51 of the UN Charter which grants each member state the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in the event of an armed attack. Israel is likely to repeat the same strategy in the case of Iran. Iranian rhetoric of "eliminating Israel from the global arena," that "Israel is doomed to disappear" and must be "wiped from the map" has provided Israel an opportunity to portray Iran as a threat to Israel's very existence and hence a legitimate target for any pre-emptive strike. The attack on Iraq did invite international condemnation and the UN Security Council, through its resolution 487, condemned Israel's attack as a violation of the UN Charter but refrained from imposing sanctions against Israel. The scenario might not be different this time around. The international climate seething with interfaith acrimony, post 9/11, global instability and volatility, impotence of the Muslim world in the face of Israel's continuing support of the US administration of Israel's policies offers Israel an ideal environment to strike against Iran with limited and acceptable consequences. The US encouragement and support is basic to Israel's planning. To create justification for such an attack the neo-cons of the Bush administration are vigorously conducting a psychological war against Iran. The US has declared Iran a member of the "axis of evil" and an "outpost of tyranny." A number of economic sanctions have been imposed unilaterally as well as by manipulating the UN Security Council. Not content with these punitive measures, the Bush administration has continually kept Iran under pressure with threats of use of force. The sabre rattling has continued despite growing evidence that Iran's nuclear programme is not weapons-orientated. Both the IAEA and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in reports have confirmed that US allegations about Iran's atomic goals have been overblown. The reports state that Iran appeared "less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Iran would be able to produce enough highly uranium for a weapon some time during the 2010-2015 time frame." Bush and his policy planners however have not been subdued by the report. In October 2007, Bush talked of the spectre of a Third World War or a nuclear holocaust if Iran succeeded in obtaining nuclear weapon capability. The US continues to pursue this line and has rejected all explanations from Iran. Iran repeated assurances that its nuclear ambitions are not weapon-orientated and that it has the right under the NPT, which it signed in 1968 to follow a peaceful nuclear programme have been ignored by the US-Israel axis and pressure on Iran continues relentlessly. The US president has been warned by his own allies against such a venture either directly or through is surrogate Israel. The European Union shares the view that Iran's pursuit of enrichment poses a potentially great threat to International peace and security but is opposed to any military strike which will inevitably destabilise the Middle East, disrupt oil flows or at the least cause a massive increase in oil prices. Unless the US achieves some spectacular success against Al-Qaeda in the coming days, President Bush before fading into history may be tempted to go this perilous course to salvage his record of unmitigated failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. The writer is a former ambassador