Israel, the U.S. and the Arab World
March 21, 2010
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will use a visit to Washington this week to press the U.S. to release advanced weapons needed for a possible strike on Iran's nuclear sites, the Sunday Times reported.
Ahead of his departure Sunday night, Netanyahu bowed to U.S. demands and promised the administration of U.S President Barack Obama that Israel will make several goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians. For the first time since Operation Cast Lead, Israel has agreed to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has also agreed to discuss all core issues during the proximity talks, with the condition of reaching final conclusions only in direct talks with the PA.
But according to the London weekly, Netanyahu will also seek returns for the concessions, asking Israel's closest ally to provide the IAF with sophisticated 'bunker-buster' bombs needed to break through to Iran's nuclear enrichment installations, many of which are buried underground. Israel and the West accuse Iran of using its enrichment program to build a nuclear bomb, a charge Tehran denies.
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, is believed to have refused previous Israeli requests for the GBU-28 bombs, as well as for upgraded refuelling tanker aircraft that would enable a long-range airstrike on Iran. But Netanyahu may have a tough task before him in persuading Obama to arm Israel for a strike and current U.S. strategy appears to favor a diplomatic, rather than a military, solution to the Iran's dispute with the West. On Sunday Obama used the occasion of the Persian New Year to send a video message to Iranians in which he renewed last year's American offer of engagement to end the nuclear standoff. So far, Western attempts to lure Iran into a compromise have met with little success, however, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rejected offers to enrich his country's uranium abroad.
On Saturday Ahmadinejad issued his own, more combative New Year's address to Iranians, in which he said that Iran would resit Western pressure even more determinedly in the coming year.
"Enemies have tried to weaken our country but they have failed and in the coming year we will stand even more firmly against them than before," he said.Reports on Saturday that United States was transporting 387 of the high-tech bunker-busting bombs to its air base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean appeared to indicate that despite his diplomatic efforts, Obama has not ruled out an American strike in Iran.