President Bush reportedly revealed to the Israelis that he already had authorized a covert U.S. effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Two well placed sources confirmed to FOX News that Israel last year made "various requests" for U.S. assistance with a planned Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear program.
Israel's plan, however, was scuttled when the United States rebuffed Israel in its request to fly through Iraqi airspace, according to a New York Times report on a covert U.S. program.
The Times story, published Saturday, cites unnamed American and foreign officials in reporting that President Bush also turned away an Israeli request for bunker-busting bombs for use in its planned attack on the Iranian nuclear complex. The president then revealed to the Israelis that he already had authorized a covert U.S. effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear capabilities, the Times reports.
The Bush administration was "particularly alarmed," the Times says, by the Israeli request for access to Iraqi airspace.
Sources told FOX News that the Israeli requests were made directly to the White House because the Israelis were "disturbed and fearful" of leaks from the U.S. intelligence community and "did not trust" Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
One source told FOX News the Israelis approached the Bush White House at least once last summer, possibly twice, and were "slammed down" because senior administration officials felt such assistance would "unravel our position in Iraq." President Bush was convinced by aides, sources said, that any such American aid to an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear program would cause the Iranians "to foment great upheaval in Iraq."
One source told FOX News the Israeli emissary sent to request Washington's help was Meir Dagan, head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad. Dagan was sent reportedly because the Israelis considered him "the only trusted channel."LinkHere
U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site
WASHINGTON — President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel
last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran
’s main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.
White House officials never conclusively determined whether Israel had decided to go ahead with the strike before the United States protested, or whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
of Israel was trying to goad the White House into more decisive action before Mr. Bush left office. But the Bush administration was particularly alarmed by an Israeli request to fly over Iraq to reach Iran’s major nuclear complex at Natanz, where the country’s only known uranium enrichment plant is located.
The White House denied that request outright, American officials said, and the Israelis backed off their plans, at least temporarily. But the tense exchanges also prompted the White House to step up intelligence-sharing with Israel and brief Israeli officials on new American efforts to subtly sabotage Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, a major covert program that Mr. Bush is about to hand off to President-elect Barack Obama
This account of the expanded American covert program and the Bush administration’s efforts to dissuade Israel from an aerial attack on Iran emerged in interviews over the past 15 months with current and former American officials, outside experts, international nuclear inspectors and European and Israeli officials. None would speak on the record because of the great secrecy surrounding the intelligence developed on Iran.
Several details of the covert effort have been omitted from this account, at the request of senior United States intelligence and administration officials, to avoid harming continuing operations.