Barak 224 88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
According to a Los Angeles Times report Wednesday, officials in the Bush administration have offered reassurance to Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the US has not necessarily ruled out the option of a military strike on Iran, despite what some in Israel have interpreted as an easing of Washington's stance toward the Islamic Republic.
Barak was told that while the possibility of striking Iran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program hadn't been ruled out during his meetings on Monday and Tuesday at the Pentagon, Washington was seeking to resolve the situation diplomatically.
Also according to the Times report, US officials have made known that there is indeed a difference between American and Israeli stances, with Israel seeking to emphasize the possibility of a strike in case Teheran reaches a point where it possesses the technical knowledge to assemble a nuclear device.
The Times quoted a senior US official as saying, "Is there a difference of emphasis? It certainly looks as though there is."
Both countries suspect that Iran is enriching uranium with the intention of producing nuclear weapons. Iran, however, claims that its program has solely civilian energy-related aims.
"The military option, although always available, it not our preferred route," commented Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told the Times in an interview.
"We have made that point clear to [Israel] and the world in our public statements and private meetings," he continued.
The Israeli Defense Ministry released a statement on Tuesday saying that Barak had related to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that "a policy that consists of keeping all options on the table must be maintained."
Barak told journalists in Washington that there was still time for "accelerated sanctions" which would be used to pressure Iran to cease its nuclear program.