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Vol. 73/No. 4      February 2, 2009

Tel Aviv asked for U.S. help
to bomb nuclear site in Iran
In early 2008 the Israeli government prepared the bombing of an underground nuclear facility in Natanz, Iran, but U.S. president George Bush rebuffed Tel Aviv’s request for help in doing so. At about the same time, Washington stepped up its own program to covertly undermine the Iranian nuclear project, the New York Times reported January 11.

Washington, Tel Aviv, and their imperialist allies charge that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its nuclear energy program. Tehran has denied the charge and rejected demands that it stop enriching uranium, which can be used to fuel nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons.

The Times story, written by David Sanger, was based on interviews with anonymous U.S., Israeli, and European government officials. Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv has denied the report.

Sanger wrote that Tel Aviv asked Washington for “a new generation of bunker-buster bombs, far more capable of blowing up a deep underground plant than anything in Israel’s arsenal of conventional weapons. They also asked for refueling equipment that would allow their aircraft to reach Iran and return to Israel. And they asked for the right to fly over Iraq.”

In 2005 Washington approved a package to sell as many as 100 GBU-28 laser-guided bunker buster bombs to Tel Aviv. A special delivery of the bombs was sent to Israel in 2006 during the Israeli military’s campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

According to Sanger, an aide to Bush said the president immediately denied the request to fly over Iraq and deflected the other requests, telling the Israeli government Washington had developed a new covert action program to sabotage the Iranian nuclear project.

The U.S. government also briefed Tel Aviv on this program, which consisted of trying to disrupt the chain of nuclear suppliers to Iran, harass Iranian scientists, and sabotage equipment at Natanz.

“Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials,” Sanger wrote.

The first week in June 2008 the Israeli air force carried out a long-range military exercise that strongly resembled a rehearsal for bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. It included helicopters and refueling tankers that flew more than 900 miles, about the same distance from Israel to the Natanz plant in Iran.

In September 2007 Israeli jets bombed what Tel Aviv said was a nuclear weapons facility in Syria. In 1981 Israeli jets destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq.

The Bush administration has sought Iranian help in bringing Shiite militias, like Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, to heel in Iraq. There have also been ongoing backdoor talks with Iran.

The Bush administration continued to rely on a broad range of sanctions against Iran and exploiting any opportunity to win over elements in Iran’s capitalist class who want to compromise for the sake of ending Iran’s economic isolation.

Washington has also worked to firm up relations with Arab states in the region as a bulwark against Iran. On January 16, for example, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a nuclear energy cooperation pact with the United Arab Emirates under which the UAE relinquishes its right to enrich uranium.

“We applaud the UAE’s commitment to the highest standards of safety, security, and non-proliferation in the pursuit of nuclear power,” Rice said, pointedly noting that the Iranian government has refused to follow U.S. dictates in terms of nuclear power.
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