US refusal to bring forward KC-46 refueling aircraft holds back possible Israeli strike on Iran
The Biden administration’s refusal to accede to Israel’s latest requests for delivery asap of the KC-46 Pegasus military refueling aircraft sets back a potential Israel airstrike for averting a nuclear-armed Iran. It is another hiccup in US-Israel relations with the current Netanyahu government. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explained that Boeing can’t meet this request now since its hands are full with US Air Force orders. Under its $927m contract with Boeing, Israel will acquire four KC-46 aircraft; the first due by the end of 2025 and the other three in 2016.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant underlined as pressing the first Pegasus delivery after Iran was discovered enriching uranium up to 84pc grade and needed to be stopped before it jumped the six points up to weapons grade nuclear fuel. Advanced refueling aircraft are essential for the Israel Air Force to be sure of making the distance to targets in Iran and returning home safely.
DEBKAfile’s Washington sources add that the administration is strongly motivate to deny Israel’s request additionally by consideration of the ramifications of the Chinese-brokered détente between Saudi Arab and Iran. While reluctant to let Beijing gain a strong foothold in the Middle East, Biden regards this deal as offering the region a spell of stability. Ebbing US influence is a price they are willing to pay for the sake of calm in this volatile region. And a potential Israel air strike on Iran is seen as a recipe for major upsets, particularly since relations between Washington and Jerusalem have faced one hiccup after another. Inflammatory remarks by over-aggressive, under-experienced the new government ministers have soured the friendship. Most recently, the State Department chastised Israel for Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s public statement repudiating the existence of a Palestinian people as a “fabrication.”