US buys Israeli restraint on Iran with new weapons

Anti-war demonstrators shout slogans as seen from the motorcade of US President Barack Obama as he is leaving after speaking during the AIPAC Policy Conference at the Washington Convention Center on 4 March 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFP - Jewel Samad)

Published Thursday, March 8, 2012

The United States offered Israel advanced weaponry in return for it committing to not attack Iran's nuclear facilities this year, Israeli daily Maariv reported on Thursday.

Citing unnamed Western diplomats and intelligence sources, the report said that during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, the US administration offered to supply Israel with advanced bunker-busting bombs and long-range refuelling planes.

In return, Israel would agree to put off a possible attack on Iran till 2013, after the US elections in November.

Israel – the only nuclear power in the Middle East – fears Iran's nuclear program masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran denies, and it was top of the agenda at talks between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama in Washington this week.

The US and Israel are at odds over just how immediate the Iranian threat is. Netanyahu said on Monday that sanctions against Iran have not worked, and "none of us can afford to wait much longer."

A key difference between Washington and Israel has emerged on the timeline available for a military strike against Iran, with the Jewish state warning that the military material available to it gives it a shorter window for action.

In response, the report said, the US administration offered to give Israel weapons and material that could extend its window to act against Iran.

In particular, it would offer bunker-busting bombs more powerful than those currently possessed by Israel, which would allow the Jewish state to target Iranian facilities even under solid rock.

The report comes shortly after world powers known as the P5+1 – five UN Security Council members plus Germany – offered to resume long-stalled talks with Tehran over its contested nuclear program.

Israel has cautiously welcomed the talks, but warned it must be prepared for the potential failure of any new dialogue with Iran.

Israel's threats of war with Iran have irked world capitals, fearing military action against the Islamic republic will spark a regional conflict and jeopardize oil supplies.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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