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Daily Israel Report

U.S. Official: Israel Won't Warn Us Before an Attack on Iran

U.S. intelligence official says Israel has made it clear it won’t warn the U.S. ahead of a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/28/2012, 6:16 AM

Netanyahu and Obama
Netanyahu and Obama
Reuters

Israeli officials have made it clear they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, a U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press on Monday.

The official said the pronouncement was delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations.

According to the AP report, Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel's potential attack.

The report said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers.

The U.S. official, who spoke to the news agency on condition of anonymity, said that Netanyahu delivered the same message to all the Americans who have traveled to Israel for talks.

According to AP, the apparent decision to keep the U.S. in the dark also stems from Israel's frustration with the White House. After a recent visit by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, the report said, Israel became convinced the Americans would neither take military action, nor go along with unilateral action by Israel against Iran. The Israelis concluded they would have to conduct a strike unilaterally, a point they are likely to hammer home in a series of meetings over the next two weeks in Washington, the official told the news agency.

Barak will meet with top administration and congressional officials during his visit, while Netanyahu arrives in Washington on March 5 for meetings with President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu recently said publicly that sanctions against the Islamic Republic are "not working," a sentiment supported by U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess in a testimony given to U.S. lawmakers.

Netanyahu is widely believed to back Barak, who believes a pre-emptive military strike on Iran's nuclear program must be made before Tehran enters "the immunity zone."

Barak's so-called "immunity zone" is a theoretical point of no return after which Iran's nuclear program would be so diffuse and well protected that an Israeli strike could not sufficiently delay Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, who recently visited Israel and met with officials on the Iranian issue, was quoted as having told CNN on Monday, “I got the sense that Israel is incredibly serious about a strike on their nuclear weapons program.”

Rogers added, “It’s their calculus that the administration ... is not serious about a real military consequence to Iran moving forward. They believe they're going to have to make a decision on their own, given the current posture of the United States.”

The White House did not respond to AP’s requests for comment on the anonymous official’s remarks, and the Pentagon and Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, as did the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

The remarks seem to back recent reports, according to which Israeli officials told Dempsey that Israel would give President Barack Obama no more than 12 hours notice if and when it attacks Iran.

The report said that the Netanyahu government also will not coordinate with the United States an attack on the Islamic Republic.

Despite the latest reports, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro insisted last week that the United States and Israel are "coordinated" on steps being taken to confront Iran's nuclear program.