The U.S. has so far turned aside requests from Israel for “bunker-buster” bombs and permission to use an air corridor over Iraq, fearing Israel will use the bombs and air space to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Top-level officials have been discussing the Israeli requests during the past few months, and a rejection by the U.S. would make an attack on Iran “very difficult,” according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
In 2005, the U.S. said it was supplying bunker-buster bombs to Israel. The bombs, which weigh 2.2 tons each, can penetrate nearly 20 feet of reinforced concrete. Israel has asked for a number of addition bunker-busters and has been turned down.
Israel would need the air corridor over Iraq so Israeli jets could reach Iran without being targeted by American planes or anti-aircraft missiles. The U.S. has turned down this request as well, instead suggesting that Israel should ask Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for permission for fly-overs.
Israel has also asked the U.S. for refueling planes, since Israeli bombers would need to be refueled on their return from Iran and Israel’s refueling craft are very outmoded. The U.S. has rejected the request, according to a report cited by Haaretz.
In a series of meetings following President Bush’s visit to Israel in May, the U.S. has indicated to the Israelis that for now the administration is intent on using diplomatic channels to seek an end to Iran’s nuclear program.
But during Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to Washington in July, the U.S. agreed to provide Israel with a radar system in the Negev desert, greatly increasing Israel’s ability to detect a missile launch from Iran.
The system is to be operated by American civilians and a few U.S. soldiers, Haaretz reported.
This would be the first permanent U.S. force on Israeli soil.
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