Saturday, October 4, 2008

ISRAEL: Up Against the Red Light on Attacking Iran

Analysis by Peter Hirschberg

"JERUSALEM, Oct 4 (IPS) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will travel to Moscow next week for talks that will focus largely on Iran's nuclear programme at a time when there seem to be growing signs that the U.S. is unenthusiastic about the idea of an Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Since President George W. Bush's visit to Israel in May to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state, there have been reports that Washington is sticking to its policy of sanctions on Iran and that, for now, Israel does not have a green light to strike at its nuclear sites.

Media reports emerged about two months ago that the U.S. had denied an Israeli request for a weapons package that would have increased its capability of launching an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Last month, the daily Haaretz reported that the security aid package included "a large number of bunker-buster bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system, and refuelling planes."......

Without U.S. consent, says Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, it is highly unlikely that Israel would carry out an attack. But, he adds, if the U.S. does not give Israel the green light, then they need to offer an alternative.

"Some have mentioned the possibility of a (U.S.-Israel) defence treaty," he told IPS. "We need a clear-cut statement saying that any nuclear attack on Israel will be considered an attack on the U.S. That America would respond with nuclear weapons against Iran. This would be an important deterrent."......."

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