There he goes again.
Just so no one thinks it's a joke, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again announced that one of his goals is the destruction of Israel.
Speaking this week at a conference of ambassadors from Islamic countries, Ahmadinejad contended that destroying Israel and "liberating Palestine" are key to "solving the world problems."
"Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the way for world justice and freedom," Ahmadinejad said.
It might sound strange to hear an autocrat who presides over a despotic government speak about the concept of freedom. But it's not at all unusual to hear Ahmadinejad expound about his plans for the future of Israel.
Unfortunately, this is not idle chatter from a notorious anti-Semite. It's a warning from a neighbor of Israel that is pursuing a nuclear weapon, and it needs to be taken seriously.
That's why a variety of high-profile representatives from the United States — including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — have been visiting Israel is recent days to take the temperature of top officials there.
Noting Iran's nuclear threat, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indicated that he won't wait until Iran has nukes and that his country may launch a pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear capability.
Some have speculated that, for a variety of reasons, an attack could come before the November election.
U.S. officials are trying to prevent that. Panetta has repeatedly stated that the U.S. is determined that Iran is "not going to be able to get an atomic weapon." He said he has prepared a "full range of options ... should diplomacy fail."
So far, U.S. diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions have failed, and time could be growing short. That's why the Israelis are preparing to go it alone, if they deem it necessary. The constant stream of threats from Iranian leaders is going a long way to convince the Israelis that it will be.