The Daily Beast reports:
While publicly pressuring Israel to make deeper concessions to the Palestinians, President Obama has secretly authorized significant new aid to the Israeli military that includes the sale of 55 deep-penetrating bombs known as bunker busters, Newsweek has learned.
In an exclusive story to be published Monday on growing military cooperation between the two allies, U.S. and Israeli officials tell Newsweek that the GBU-28 Hard Target Penetrators—potentially useful in any future military strike against Iranian nuclear sites—were delivered to Israel in 2009, just several months after Obama took office.
The military sale was arranged behind the scenes as Obama’s demands for Israel to stop building settlements in disputed territories were fraying political relations between the two countries in public.
The Israelis first requested the bunker busters in 2005, only to be rebuffed by the Bush administration. At the time, the Pentagon had frozen almost all U.S.-Israeli joint defense projects out of concern that Israel was transferring advanced military technology to China.
In 2007, Bush informed Ehud Olmert, then prime minister, that he would order the bunker busters for delivery in 2009 or 2010. The Israelis wanted them in 2007. Obama finally released the weapons in 2009, according to officials familiar with the still-secret decision.
James Cartwright, the Marine Corps general who served until August as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Newsweek the military chiefs had no objections to the sale. Rather, Cartwright said, there was a concern about “how the Iranians would perceive it,” and “how the Israelis might perceive it.” In other words, would the sale be seen as a green light for Israel to attack Iran’s secret nuclear sites one day?
Meanwhile, Reuters reports:
The United States will not “sit idly by” while its forces are harmed by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, said on Thursday.
Mullen and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a Senate committee that while such attacks by groups linked to Iran had declined since the summer, the United States would not ignore it the attacks recurred.
“They (the Iranians) have been warned about continuing it … that if they keep killing our troops, that will not be something we will sit idly by and watch,” Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Iran needs to understand that we’re going to be around awhile here, making very clear to them that we’re not — we’re not simply going to ignore what Iran is doing in — in Iraq,” Panetta said.
Fourteen U.S. services members were killed in hostile incidents in Iraq in June. Most of the deaths were attributed by U.S. officials to rocket attacks by Shi’ite militias armed by Iran.