Exclusive: Flurry over possible Israeli attack on Iran galvanized by race to succeed Olmert
Two White House spokesmen stressed Friday, June 6, that Washington was committed to solving the Iran issue by diplomacy. They were fielding a barrage of questions on Israeli transport minister Shaul Mofaz’s statement that an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites looks “unavoidable” if it continues uranium enrichment – given the failure of sanctions.
Asked whether the US would support an Israeli strike on Iraq, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel answered indirectly: “I’m not going to talk about hypotheticals. I think we’ve been pretty clear in recent weeks and months about our approach on Iran.”
Dana Perino followed by saying: “I understand that Israel is very concerned… when they have a neighbor in their region – Iran – that says they want to wipe them off the map. We are trying to solve this diplomatically.”
debkafile‘s political sources report that, while prime minister Ehud Olmert’s aides and the Israeli media played up the importance of the Iranian dossier he presented to President George W. Bush in the White House Wednesday, June 4, there was little substance to their conversation.
Olmert aimed for the impression that he was on top of his job in the face of calls at home for him to step down over the investigation against him for corrupt practices. Any real exchange of intelligence between the two governments took place in the talks US Director of National Intelligence Adm. Mike McConnell held in Tel Aviv while Olmert was in Washington. The American visitor met with the Mossad chief Meir Dagan and defense minister Ehud Barak, following which he was due to brief President Bush over the weekend.
It is self-evident to every Israeli that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb would threaten the Jewish state’s existence and no government can afford to stand by and watch it happen. For Mofaz, who is campaigning to succeed Olmert as Kadima leader and next prime minister, a hawkish position on Iran has the best chance of garnering popular support.
This does not promise an attack on Iran is about to happen. So far, Olmert and Barak have been treading water on the Iran problem; they are even dragging their feet on the lingering Hamas missile offensive which is progressively depopulating southwestern Israel.