It’s an election year in the United States, and the last thing President Barack Obama wants is another war in the Middle East. That’s why there has been tension between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose fiery rhetoric and insistence that Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped dead has led to worldwide speculation that the West is on a march to war with Iran. Israel, it seems, is prepared to pre-emptively attack Iran—regardless of international law—to prevent it from gaining the capability to build nuclear bombs.
But according to Israeli newspaper Maariv, the U.S. and Israel have reached a secret agreement that would delay such an attack until at least 2013. In exchange for the time this will buy Obama, the U.S. has reportedly agreed to supply Israel with advanced “bunker busting” bombs. Speaking anonymously, an Israeli government official told Reuters that “such a request was made” during Netanyahu’s Washington visit this week, but played down reports that the U.S. made Israel promise not to attack Iran in return.
If the reports are true, the deal makes sense for both parties. Obama gets to cruise towards an increasingly likely election victory in November without having to deal with a potential war with Iran and the heightened oil prices that would probably bring. Netanyahu and the hawks of Jerusalem, meanwhile, would get the military hardware they need to better ensure that any strike would adequately destroy nuclear facilities that are buried deep underground.
The cause of peace would gain a leg up too, since sanctions against Iran would have more time to work their magic on the regime in Tehran, and international negotiators would gain some breathing space in their efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, which it maintains is strictly for peaceful purposes.