Netanyahu and Obama in Washington .
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not discuss in their meetings this week an Israeli request for advanced US military technology that could be used against Iran, the White House said on Thursday.
An Israeli official said earlier on Thursday that Israel has asked the United States for advanced "bunker-buster" bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran's underground nuclear sites.
"Such a request was made" around the time of Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports.
But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as "unrealistic" Israeli reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, asked whether the Israelis had made such a request to US officials during the visit, said "there was no such agreement proposed or reached" in President Barack Obama's meetings with Netanyahu or his aides.
But when asked if the matter was raised with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or other US officials, Carney told reporters he had no information on that. "I would refer you to other officials," he said.
Netanyahu made clear to Obama at a White House meeting on Monday that Israel had not yet decided on military action against Iran, the White House has said.
A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv
on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.
Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal but its conventional firepower may not be enough to deliver lasting damage to Iran's distant, dispersed and well-fortified facilities, many experts say.
Israel has limited stocks of older, smaller bunker-busters and a small fleet of refueling planes, all supplied by Washington.
Western powers suspect Iran's uranium enrichment program is aimed at stockpiling fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran says it is strictly for civilian energy uses.