The US government officials assured Israel that the option of attacking Iran
over its nuclear program remains on the table, despite widespread Israeli
concern that Washington has begun softening its position toward Tehran,
According to The Los Angeles Times yesterday.
The United States had not abandoned all possibility of a military attack on
Iran, though US officials are primarily seeking a diplomatic solution.
The message was conveyed by Bush administration officials in meetings Monday
and Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is on a visit to
Washington, the report said.
At the same time, US officials acknowledged that there is a rare divergence
in the US and Israeli approaches, with Israelis emphasizing the possibility of a
military response out of concern that Tehran may soon have the know-how for
building a nuclear bomb, according to the report.
US and Israeli officials believe Iran is enriching uranium with the aim of
building nuclear weapons, but Iran says that its nuclear program was for
peaceful and civilian energy purposes.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in an interview that US officials
have often made it clear to Israeli officials that Washington prefers to try to
mitigate the threat from Tehran by applying economic pressure.
"The military option, although always available, is not our preferred route,"
"We have made that point clear to them and the world in our public statements
and private meetings," he said.
During his Washington visit, Barak was expected to try to talk the Bush
administration out of what many Israelis perceive as a more conciliatory policy
On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Ministry released a statement saying that
Barak had told US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that "a policy that consists
of keeping all options on the table must be maintained."