'Bush gave Israel amber light to attack'

Official tells 'Sunday Times' paper Israel advised not to expect military help from US if diplomacy fails.

IAF f-16i 224 (photo credit: IDF )
IAF f-16i 224
(photo credit: IDF )
US President George W. Bush has given Israel the "amber light" to carry out an attack on Iran if diplomatic efforts are unsuccessful in causing the Islamic Republic to back down and relinquish its nuclear program, according to a senior Pentagon official quoted by the British Sunday Times on Sunday morning. According to the official, Bush has given Israel free rein to attack Iran's nuclear sites if sanctions fail in spite of opposition from US generals and regardless of the possible economic and political repercussions of such a strike. "Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you're ready," the official said, adding however, that Israel had been told that it could not count on the US to lend it military support. Contradicting recent reports to the contrary, he also said that the IAF would not be permitted to take off from American military bases in Iraq. The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the report. On Friday, sources in the Iraqi Defense Ministry told a local news network that IAF war planes were practicing in Iraqi airspace and landing on US airbases in the country as a preparation for a potential strike on Iran. "It's really all down to the Israelis," the official added. "This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn't believe that anything but force will deter Iran." The official said that Israel had yet to present Bush with a compelling military proposal. "If there is no solid plan, the amber will never turn to green," he said. He also noted that there was resistance within the Pentagon coming from officers who feared an Iranian retaliation. "The uniform people are opposed to the attack plans, mainly because they think it will endanger our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan," the source said. Only on Saturday, an aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened that his country would "destroy" Israel, as well as 32 US army bases in the region in retaliation for any attack on the Islamic Republic. "If Israel and the US fire a bullet or a missile at Iran, its forces will attack the heart of Israel and 32 American bases in the region before the dust from such an attack has settled," Iran's Fars news agency quoted Mojtaba Zolnour as saying. He added that such targets would be "destroyed" by the Iranian counterattack.