A person walks by a photo of a refinery at the World Petroleum Congress in Madrid, Tuesday, July 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
(CBS News) -- An Israeli air strike on Iran, with the intent of knocking out that country's nuclear facilities, may only speed Tehran's race to build a bomb, a nuclear policy expert told CBS News.
The comments come as U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon was visiting Israel to voice America's concerns over the prospect of an Israeli attack, as worry over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program mounts.
On "CBS This Morning," Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear policy expert, State Department adviser and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that it is uncertain whether an Israeli strike involving at least 100 aircraft would fail to stop Iran's nuclear program.
"This would be a very large and complicated and uncertain adventure," Cirincione told Charlie Rose. "They'd have to dodge a pretty stout Iran air defense network, and if they did hit the targets, as they probably could, it's uncertain whether they would do enough damage to actually do much more than delay the program for a year or so."
Cirincione seconded comments made by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, that an Israeli strike would be destabilizing.
"It wouldn't be a quick end to this crisis; it would be the beginning of either a larger war or a long-scale, large-scale containment effort to try to stop Iran from what they would undoubtedly do, which would be race to build a bomb.
"And during this you would see oil prices which are already spiking probably go through the roof. Experts warn that oil could hit $200 a barrel - some even think $300 a barrel. That would have repercussions on an already fragile global economy."
Cirincione told Erica Hill that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - who has been talking of a strike - has been getting pushback from many Israeli intelligence officials and military officials: "You see, for example, the retired head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence unit, Meir Dagan, say that an Israeli strike would be the stupidest thing he ever heard of, it would set back Israeli interests 10 years in the region.
"What the hope is, is that the rhetoric you're seeing coming out of some Israeli officials is really designed to stiffen Western sanctions, Western pressure against Iran,' said Cirincione. "And if so, it is being effective, because you're seeing sanctions go to unprecedented levels. We've never seen these kinds of sanctions put on any country. They're already quite strong and more to come. Europe will end its purchase of Iranian oil and you're hearing talk that the international banking system might cut off Iranian banks. This would be a crippling strike against the [Iranians]."
Cirincione says U.S. officials are continuing to talk to Israel to defuse the situation, "all aimed at calming Israel, assuring them that we've got this, the pressure is going to increase, we're not ignoring this problem."
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