Moscow, Feb 16 : Russia's top military boss has said that an attack against Iran, which the West suspects of developing nuclear weapons, could begin as early as summer, Russia Today reported.
Thus far, tensions between Tehran and the west have been confined to the battlefield of heated rhetoric.
Russia's highest ranking military officer, however, predicts it may be just a matter of time before the verbal grenades get real.
The Russian General Staff is closely watching the situation, and is not ruling out the possibility of a coordinated attack on the Islamic Republic, General Nikolay Makarov, head of the Russian General Staff, told reporters on Tuesday.
"Iran is a sore spot,” Makarov noted. “I think a decision will be made by the summer."
If Gen Makarov is correct in his estimations, the situation in the region – overwhelmed as it is with political crises and war – could spin rapidly out of control.
Indeed, some are warning that an attack on Iran could trigger a domino effect across the Middle East, possibly even culminating in another world war.
In the slide towards escalating violence, there have been a string of disturbing incidents, including alleged cyber attacks against Iran, as well as the downing of a sophisticated US drone, which Iran says it guided to the ground after electronically hacking into the vehicle.
Then there are the mysterious assassinations.
In January, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 31, who supervised a department at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was killed by a car bomb in northern Tehran.
Exactly two years earlier, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a senior physics professor at Tehran University, was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded beside his car as he was about to leave for work.
Iran blamed Israeli intelligence for the killings.
In the latest ratcheting up of tensions, Israel on Monday blamed Iran for masterminding attacks against Israeli embassies in Tbilisi and New Delhi. Following the incidences, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Iran "the world's greatest exporter of terror."
Clearly, this game of tit-for-tat can readily explode into all-out conflict, which would be a worst-case scenario not just for the region, but for the entire world.
In November, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned that military action against Iran could have “unintended consequences” in the region.
Panetta, like his Russian counterpart, believes that the decision to attack Iran may be imminent.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius wrote earlier this month that Panetta "believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June before Iran enters what Israelis described as a 'zone of immunity' to commence building a nuclear bomb."
US and French naval vessels are already prowling the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, and with Iranian patrol boats nearby the situation could rapidly deteriorate.
Russia is adamantly opposed to any military action against Iran, though Moscow has supported UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran in an effort to force the Islamic Republic to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu is working overtime to get US President Barack Obama onboard the campaign against Iran. And it will not hurt his fierce lobbying efforts that the Democrats and Republicans – the only game in town – are stockpiling ammunition for presidential elections in November.
Thanks to the hawkish neoconservative philosophy that has hijacked traditional conservative thinking (which, to his credit, Ron Paul genuinely represents), President Obama can expect to be accused of “going weak on Iran” if he proposes anything short of war.
Thus, Russia's top military commander may be right: the overstretched US military and its budget-broke NATO allies may find themselves fighting yet another senseless war with unknown consequences very soon.