Shortly after Vice President Joe Biden's Israel visit ended on March 11 in high dudgeon over the approval 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, US president Barack Obama ordered a consignment of Joint Direct Attack Munition- JDAM already on its way to Israel to be diverted to the US Air Force base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. This step, the pointer to a US arms embargo for preventing Israel attacking Iran's nuclear sites, is first revealed here by debkafile's military sources.
US military sources describe the consignment as consisting of 387 JDAM kits for attachment to the warheads of 2,000-pound BLU-109/MK-84 or the 1,000-pound BLU-110/MK-83 bunker-busters for their conversion into smart bombs.
On March 13, debkafile disclosed that the Obama administration was pondering withholding from Israel military hardware that could be used for an Israeli attack on Iran. In late February, we reported that defense minister Ehud Barak had submitted to defense secretary Robert Gates a list of the items Israel required urgently to stand up to a four-front assault by Iran and its allies – mainly air force ordnance, certain types of missile and advanced electronic devices. Barak made it clear that all these items must be present in Israel before the outbreak of hostilities. The requests were so urgent that the minister proposed that if Washington was reluctant to hand them directly to Israel, they could be stored for the interim in the big American emergency depots in Israel's Negev.
The 387 DJAP kits were due for delivery at one of the Israeli Air Force's Negev bases in March. Because of his concern over the US president's step to divert the shipment, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided to take the defense minister with him to Washington next Monday, March 22 and have him present at the meeting with Obama which the US media reports has been fixed for Tuesday (the day after his address to the AIPAC annual conference). Together they will ask for the delayed munitions to be released and handed over as part of any general understandings they may reach.
debkafile reports that the pair of Israeli Gulfstream Vs converted to spy planes sighted over Budapest on March 17 may have been an Israeli signal of its concern over White House measures for keeping the means of attacking Iran out of its hands.
The long-haul flights, demonstrating the Israel Air Force's ability to cover the distance to Iran, took the aircraft over Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania as well as Hungary. The two planes carried out maneuvers over Budapest international airport with no attempt at concealment.
Because they fly in pairs, Western aviation experts say the electronic measures aboard are able to detect the functioning of electronic devices, radar stations, communications centers and cell phones on the ground, locate them and relay the data for warplanes to destroy them.
Two years ago, in June 2008, Israel deployed more that 100 Air Force F-16 and F-15 warplanes over Greece and the Aegean Sea in a big exercise designed to showcase its long-range capabilities.