US rejected Israeli request for hardware to raid Iranian nuclear facility – report

Four Ospreys from the U.S. Navy Ship. © Wolfgang Rattay
Israel wanted to send commandos to break into the Fordo nuclear facility in Iran and sabotage it from the inside, WSJ reports. The US considered it a suicide mission and refused to sell Israel military hardware that could be used in such a raid.

The episode, dating back to 2012, is part of a developing crisis of confidence that Israel and the US plunged into under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal says relations started deteriorating in 2009, when Netanyahu met Obama in the White House and started briefing reporters immediately without coordinating with the Americans.

Washington tried to reassure Israel of US support by expanding joint clandestine operations against Iran and boosting cooperation between the CIA and the Mossad. But they were reluctant to back more-radical plans suggested by Israel, like bringing down the Iranian financial system or instigating an all-out regime change in the Islamic Republic, the newspaper said.

READ MORE: Israel, US resume military aid boost talks as Iran deal takes effect

One of such plans was a planned military raid on the nuclear facility in Fordow, which the Israelis briefed the Americans about in 2012. It came after the US inquired about an incursion of an Israeli aircraft into Iranian airspace, which the Americans learned by spying on Israeli military communications.

The plan was to use stealth to enter Iran, land a commando force and “go in through the porch entrance” of the fortified facility. Pentagon accessed the mission to be suicidal and pressed the Israelis to give an advance warning, to which the Israelis were noncommittal, the report said.

Israeli officials sought to acquire certain military equipment from the US that would be useful in the planned raid, including the V-22 Ospreys rotorcraft, which can land as helicopters and fly as fixed-wing aircraft do. They also wanted to obtain the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a bunker-penetrating ordinance that was designed to destroy facilities like Fordow. The Obama administration decided not to provide the equipment.

Fearful of an imminent military crisis between Iran and Israel, the US deployed an aircraft carrier in the Gulf and prepared attack aircraft in case “all hell broke loose,” a senior US official told WSJ.

Washington also chose not to inform Israel about secret negotiation it conducted with Tehran in Oman, fearing that the Netanyahu government would leak the information and derail the sensitive talks. The decision was partially motivated by Netanyahu’s perceived support of Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican rival in the presidential election.

Nevertheless Israel learned of the meeting by spying on unmarked American air traffic, the report said.