Israeli Foreign Minister: 'Israel is not planning to bomb Iran'

You can parse that statement to read several different things but bottom line, I don't think that much has really changed.

The statement by Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Foreign Minister, is given some context by Haaretz:

"Israel is not planning to bomb Iran," Lieberman told reporters in Moscow. The foreign minister is currently in Moscow for talks with Russian leaders.

The new Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has placed the Iranian nuclear program at the top of his agenda. Netanyahu views the prospect of Iran attaining a nuclear military capability as an existential threat to Israel, thus raising fears worldwide that Jerusalem will resort to military action to halt or delay the Islamic regime's plans.

"We do not have a need" to carry out attacks on Iran, he said. "Israel is a strong country and we can defend ourselves."

Lieberman added that Iran is the main factor behind instability in the Middle East, adding: "This is not an Israeli problem."

"But the world should understand that the Iran's entrance into the nuclear club would prompt a whole arms race, a crazy race of unconventional weaponry across the Mideast that is a threat to the entire world order, a challenge to the whole international community," he said. "So we do not want a global problem to be solved with our hands."

The comments appeared to be a slight softening from recent statements made by Netanyahu's government that have suggested Israel might be forced to take military action against Iran.

First of all, of course Israel has plans to bomb Iran. Carrying those plans out is another matter entirely. Secondly, the statement could also be interpreted as Israel has made no definitive decision to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities.

Still, I think the statement reflects the reality that a cold wind is blowing from Washington and that Israel can no longer count on the US even when it's very existence is at stake. An Iran strike is now an option the Israeli government will choose only in extremis - that is, only if they believe Iran has an actual nuclear device and is preparing to use it. It seems clear that whatever the Obama administration has been telling Israel about the consequences to their relationship with the US of launching an attack, it has caused Prime Minister Netanyahu's government to pull back slightly from the military option.

The Russians appear to be placing a lot of faith in Obama's Iran initiative. That's great considering they are the ones selling Iran a lot of their nuclear hardware and knowhow. Tehran is paying the Russians a lot of money to give them the expertise to enrich uranium and Moscow needs that cash badly. But do they really want the mullahs to get their hands on the bomb?

No sane country would. But considering all the assistance the Russians have given Tehran in their nuclear program as well as the diplomatic cover they are giving Iran by opposing additional sanctions at this time, one has to wonder what Putin's grand scheme might be.

Whatever it is, it probably doesn't bode well for US interests - or Israels.