Israel will have an “amber light” from the U.S. to launch a strike on Iran if other measures fail, according to a source in the Pentagon. The source, quoted in Britain’s Sunday Times, said that American President George Bush has given Israel conditional approval for an attack on the Islamic Republic if current diplomatic initiatives fail in stopping the latter’s nuclear weapons program.
The high-level U.S. defense official said the President has given Israel the go-ahead on an Iran strike if sanctions and other non-military means fail, according to the JPost news site. According to the unconfirmed report, the decision for an “amber light” for Israel has met with considerable opposition from top military brass in the U.S., as well as concerns in the American government over the political and economic consequences of such an attack.
"Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you're ready," said the official.
However, Israel will not be able to count on U.S. military support for the strike, according to the official. Despite American hopes that Israel will carry out the onerous task of eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat, the official added that the Israeli Air Force would not be permitted to refuel at American air bases in Iraq. This contradicts other recent reports indicating a willingness to allow Israel to use American bases as a staging area for the operation.
According to a Friday statement from officials in the Iraqi Defense Ministry, there is already an IAF presence in Iraq, with Israeli war planes landing on U.S. air bases and practicing in Iraqi airspace. The report, published in a local Iraqi newspaper, said that IAF activity in Iraq is believed to be part of Israeli preparations for a possible strike on Iran.
America, the strongest Western power, expects Israel to confront the Iranian threat single-handedly despite the global nature of the threat, according to the Pentagon official,.
"It's really all down to the Israelis," said the official. "This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn't believe that anything but force will deter Iran."
However, the official added, "if there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green," suggesting that Israel has yet to offer Bush a convincing military proposal.
He admitted that the prospect of American support for an Israeli strike has met considerable resistance within the Pentagon, mainly from officers who fear a counterattack from Iranian forces. "The uniform people are opposed to the attack plans, mainly because they think it will endanger our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan," said the official.
As recently as Saturday Iranian leaders repeated their threat to destroy Israel. Mojtaba Zolnour, an aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, added that his country would also wipe out the 32 US army bases in the region in response to an attack on the Islamic Republic.
"If Israel and the US fire a bullet or a missile at Iran, its forces will attack the heart of Israel and 32 American bases in the region before the dust from such an attack has settled," threatened Zolnour, according to Iran's Fars news agency. He warned that such targets would be "destroyed" by the Iranian counterstrike.