Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.
The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.
The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.
“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”
[...]Thursday’s reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled “Obama Betraying Israel?” longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a “targeted assassination campaign.”
“In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran,” Ben-Yishai writes. “The campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.”
With friends with the United States, Israel doesn’t need enemies.
UPDATE: John Bolton is making the same accusation:
Former U.S. diplomat John Boltonalleged Thursday that the Obama administration leaked a story about covert Israeli activity in order to foil potential plans by the country to attack Iran’s nuclear program.
Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, was responding to an article in Foreign Policy magazine that quoted government sources claiming Israel had been granted access to airfields in Azerbaijan – along Iran’s northern border.
The article did not state exactly what the Israelis’ intentions were, but it suggested it could point to a possible strike on Iran.
“I think this leak today is part of the administration’s campaign against an Israeli attack,” Bolton claimed on Fox News.
The White House did not respond to Bolton’s claims Thursday.
[...]The Foreign Policy article quoted what were identified as “high-level sources … inside the U.S. government.” It specifically mentioned “four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers.”
One intelligence officer, who was unnamed, told the magazine that the U.S. was “watching” the activity and was “not happy about it.”
[...]“Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak,” Bolton told FoxNews.com. “This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I’ll leak this out.”
“It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies,” Bolton said.