US rejects Israeli request for equipment to attack Iran: report

August 13th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of F-16
Tel Aviv, Aug 13 (DPA) The US has rejected an Israeli request for military equipment and support that would improve Israel’s ability to attack Iranian nuclear sites, an Israeli newspaper reported Wednesday. The US viewed the request as a sign that Israel is in the advanced stages of preparations to attack Iran, Ha’aretz said, quoting “senior Israeli officials”.

The US, therefore, warned Israel against attacking, saying such a strike would undermine its interests.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak presented their request in a meeting on the Iranian issue with US President George W. Bush when he visited Israel in May, Ha’aretz said.

They asked for specific items of military equipment, as well as diplomatic and security backing, said the daily.

The Bush administration studied Israel’s request after the president’s return to Washington. The request led it to suspect that Israel was planning to attack Iran within the next few months and, therefore, decided to send a strong message warning it not to do so, it added.

As compensation, Washington offered to improve Israel’s defences against surface-to-surface missiles. Israel responded by saying it reserves the right to take whatever action it deems necessary if diplomatic efforts to halt Iran’s nuclearisation fail, Ha’aretz said.

According to the daily, Israel had initially hoped that Bush would order a US strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office, but came to the conclusion this is unlikely.

Israel prefers to wait until diplomatic sanctions on Iran have been exhausted.

It is not eager to carry out a strike itself, because the US military is far better equipped to conduct such a strike successfully, and because an Israeli attack would give Iran international legitimacy for its programme while Israel would be portrayed as the aggressor, it said.

But Israel does not want to concede the military option, its assumption being that Iran will continue to use “delaying tactics” and may even agree to briefly suspend its uranium enrichment programme to see out the rest of Bush’s term in peace, Ha’aretz said.

According to The New York Times, Israel carried out a major air force exercise over the eastern Mediterranean in early June, in which more than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets trained for the scenario of an Israeli strike on Iran.

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