Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Haaretz: U.S. Attempts to Block Israeli Attack on Iran

Haaretz, a liberal-leaning Israeli newspaper, has an article worth reading by Aluf Benn entitled, “U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for attack on Iran nuclear facilities.” The article states that the Bush administration has rejected Israeli requests for offensive military equipment that would improve its ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. It also states that the Administration has warned Israel against militarily attacking Iran as it would undermine U.S. interests and demanded Israel give prior notice if it indeed decides to attack Iran.

According to the article, senior Israeli officials originally hoped that President George W. Bush would order an U.S. strike against Iran before leaving office because Jerusalem believes that the U.S. is better equipped and Israel could not withstand Iranian retaliation if it strikes alone. The article goes on to state that Israel has recently concluded that President Bush is unlikely to attack Iran and will instead focus on ratcheting up the diplomatic pressure and sanctions against Iran.

The articles states that a series of private messages from senior American officials, including President Bush, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, were accompanied by a series of leaks by the Pentagon regarding Israeli military exercises and intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program to thwart any possibility of an attack on Iran.

According to the article Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s recent trip to Washington focused his conversations with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Vice President Dick Cheney on Iran. “But the two Americans presented conflicting views: Gates vehemently opposes an attack on Iran, while Cheney is the administration's leading hawk. Barak presented Israel's assessments of the Iranian situation and warned that Iran was liable to advance its nuclear program under cover of the endless deliberations about sanctions - which have thus far produced little in the way of action. He also acknowledged that effective sanctions would require cooperation from Russia, China and India, all of which currently oppose sanctions with real teeth.”

The article also stated, “Israeli officials have therefore urged their American counterparts in recent months to tone down Washington's other disputes with Moscow to focus all its efforts on obtaining Russia's backing against Iran. For instance, they suggested that Washington offer to drop its plan to station a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic - a proposal Russia views as a threat, though Washington insists the system is aimed solely at Iran - in exchange for Russia agreeing to stiffer sanctions against Iran. However, the administration rejected this idea.”

According to the article, the U.S. offered to compensate Israel for rejecting all of its proposals by stationing an advanced radar system in Israel, linking Israel directly into the U.S. early warning satellite network, and increasing U.S. funding for the development of the Arrow-3 and Iron Dome missile defense systems.

2 comments:

Will Ward said...

Hello, first of all congrats on the blog. I've put up a link on my blog at http://willward.wordpress.com

Taken at face value this article is quite the bombshell, but on second read it seems pretty flimsily-sourced. No names or quotes. Lots of passive voice.

I'm curious to hear your take on it. Does it match-up with what you hear about the discussions in DC?

best,
Will

Carah Ong said...

Thank you, Will. Aluf Benn is an extremely credible journalist who covers security issues. There are certainly elements in the article, particular in regards to the Gates-Cheney divide and missile defense upgrades that make sense. Haaretz ran a follow-up article yesterday in which an Israeli source denied the portion of the report which said the U.S. is curbing arms sales to Iran, but it seems to me to be a non-denial denial. While the U.S. is not about to curb arms support to Israel, it may deny certain types of equipment. If I learn more, I will certainly post. In the mean time, here is the link to the follow-up Haaretz article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1011764.html