NEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Does Israel want to prevent US diplomacy with Iran?

U.S. rejected aid for Israeli raid on Iranian nuclear site

President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.

White House officials never conclusively determined whether Israel had decided to go ahead with the strike before the United States protested, or whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was trying to goad the White House into more decisive action before Mr. Bush left office. But the Bush administration was particularly alarmed by an Israeli request to fly over Iraq to reach Iran’s major nuclear complex at Natanz, where the country’s only known uranium enrichment plant is located.

The White House denied that request outright, American officials said, and the Israelis backed off their plans, at least temporarily. But the tense exchanges also prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, a major covert program that Mr. Bush is about to hand off to President-elect Barack Obama. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — This report raises a host of questions but perhaps the most pressing one is this: Have the New York Times and its reporter, David Sanger, knowingly or unwittingly made themselves instruments in promoting an agenda by the CIA, elements inside the agency, the US government and/or the Israeli government?

To publicize the covert program described in this report would seem to be a way of forcing Obama’s hand as his administration attempts to lay the groundwork for a diplomatic approach to Iran. If George Bush thwarted Israel’s aim of bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2008, is Israel now attempting to undermine any diplomatic initiative in 2009?

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