The US refused to give Israel a green light to attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities when Jerusalem requested Washington’s support for such a move this past spring,Â The GuardianÂ reported Thursday night.
Bush, senior European diplomatic officials told the paper, responded that he would not support a strike on Iran, and added that his position was unlikely to change as long as he is in office.
Bush’s position was apparently the result of two factors, the sources said: The first was US concern over Iranian retaliation, which would likely include attacks on US targets in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as on trade routes in the Persian Gulf; the second was US fears that Israel could not disable Iran’s nuclear facilities in a single strike, while ongoing strikes could bring on a full-scale war.
Israel would likely have to fly over Iraqi airspace – of which the US has total control – in order to strike in Iran, the sources said, and so America would be blamed for any such attack, even if it did not actively support it.
Olmert’s spokesman Mark Regev toldÂ The GuardianÂ in response that “The need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is raised at every meeting between theprime ministerÂ and foreign leaders. Israel prefers a diplomatic solution to this issue but all options must remain on the table. Your unnamed European source attributed words to theÂ prime ministerÂ that were not spoken in any working meeting with foreign guests.”
The sources in question work for a European leader who met with Olmert some time after Bush’s refusal. Olmert, the sources said, told the European leader of the contents of his meeting with Bush, and the latter passed the information to them, despite it being classified as “highly sensitive.”