Israel denies weapons-Iran link


An Israeli government official dismissed claims that the United States was withholding arms from Israel to dissuade the Jewish state from attacking Iran.

The official told JTA on Wednesday that U.S.-Israel negotiations over arms sales are taking place independently of any considerations over Iran.

“They’re two separate things,” the official said, referring to a Ha’aretz report that the United States was withholding arms from Israel for fear they would be used in an attack on Iran.

Similarly, the officials dismissed Ha’aretz’ speculation that the United States was intensifying its missile defense cooperation with Israel as an incentive against an attack on Iran.

“There’s ongoing cooperation between us on missile defense, but there’s nothing new on that,” the official said.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, announced this month that the United States would soon bring Israel into its satellite intelligence on Iranian missile launches. However, Barak cast the cooperation as part of the longstanding U.S.-Israel defense relationship.

Officials said talks between the United States and Israel on Iran were ongoing.

“There is a full dialogue with the American administration on how to deal with the Iranian issue, first and foremost through diplomatic and political means, while no option should be taken off the table,” an official said.

One veteran watcher of the U.S.-Israel security relationship said he would not be surprised if the United States and Israel were discussing a possible attack, if only because the Bush administration is in its waning days.

“Because the election is coming up and things are going to change, this is the time to contemplate” whether or not military action is merited, said Tom Neumann, the director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Bush is likely to back Israeli efforts to defend itself, he said.

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