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      Olmert Hints U.S. Action on Iran Nukes is Near

      PM meets one-on-one with Bush, then Cheney, to discuss "operational" matters and timetables. Top U.S. intelligence official on rare Israeli visit.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 6/5/2008, 11:35 AM

      File

      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted after his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush Wednesday that U.S. action against Iran is imminent. While he avoided saying anything clear and specific on the matter, Olmert did mention a "timetable" and said action would take place before Bush leaves the White House.

      "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat," Olmert said after the meeting. "I left with a lot less question marks [than I had entered with] regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and America's resoluteness to deal with the problem."

      "George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House," Olmert reportedly said after his 90 minute long one-on-one meeting with the American Commander in Chief.

      'It is not good to publicize everything'
      "With every day that goes by we get closer to stopping the Iranian nuclear plan," Olmert said. He said that meaningful steps were being taken to handle Iran "more effectively" and told reporters: "The Iranian problem requires urgent attention, and I see no reason to delay this just because there will be a new President in the White House seven and a half months from now."

      "The U.S. is a leading element in dealing with Iran," Olmert said. "These are serious matters; I am not just saying this… It is not good to publicize everything."

      Olmert reportedly told Bush: "From a personal point of view, I must say that I admire the patience and the strong emotion that you show the State of Israel as a person of your stature. Israel loves you very much, and your wife Laura."
      "George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it."

      Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, Bush said he was waiting to "hear Olmert's views" regarding the recent contacts between Israel and Syria. The talks with Syria have reportedly aroused the ire of the U.S., which sees Syria as a leading member of the Axis of Evil. Olmert told reporters: "I hope that the contacts with Damascus will take Syria out of the Axis of Evil."
       
      'Operational subjects'
      American National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley dodged reporters' questions Wednesday on whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert directly urged American President George W. Bush to take military action against Iran. He said the United States is using a diplomatic strategy but added: "All options are on the table."

      Olmert, in a speech earlier this week to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy forum, said that the Iranian threat "must be stopped by all possible means." He said sanctions
      Israeli security officials are trying to convince McConnell that the U.S. needs to change its position regarding Iran's nuclear capabilities.
      are "only an initial step" and that there is "no doubt as to the urgent need for more drastic and robust measures."

      Olmert also met with Vide President Dick Cheney at Cheney's residence. The two reportedly discussed "operational subjects" which included the finalization of the purchase of F-35 fighters by Israel, and the possibility of purchasing F-22 "Raptors" as well.

      McConnell meets Dagan
      Meanwhile the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Mike McConnell, is in Israel on a rare visit. McConnell is meeting security officials in Israel, who are trying to convince him that the U.S. needs to change its position regarding Iran's nuclear capabilities.

      McConnell is the man who presented the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in 2007, which said that Iran had stopped its military nuclear project. He is in Israel as the guest of Meir Dagan, head of the Mos
      "These are serious matters; I am not just saying this… It is not good to publicize everything."
      sad – Israel's foreign intelligence arm – and will meet Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday morning.

      Dagan is reportedly trying to persuade McConnell that Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons and is en route to doing so.

      "This is a person who briefs U.S. President Bush every morning about the security-related reality, based upon information collected by the intelligence network, and hence his importance [for Israel]," a security source told NRG. "He is one of the people with the most influence on U.S. foreign policy."

      The Israeli security source added that "[Israel's] Minister of Defense has already told the [Knesset's] Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran continues to develop its nuclear ability, but he will have to prove this to McConnell by showing him intelligence information." According to a profile in the Israeli men's magazine Blazer, the hawkish Dagan favors quiet diplomatic contacts regarding Iran, accompanied by accelerated operational readiness.