U.S. denies Obama promised bunker busters to Netanyahu
White House statement comes after Israeli media reports claim U.S. President agreed to give Israel the GBU-28 bombs; Netanyahu: Strike on Iran isn't a matter of weeks, but also 'not of years.'
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not discuss in their meetings this week a reported Israeli request for advanced U.S. military technology that could be used against Iran, the White House said on Thursday.
"In meetings the president had there was no such agreement proposed or reached," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Obama and Netanyahu meet in the Oval office for two hours on Monday and then had lunch together.
Carney's comment came after an Israeli official quoted by the Maariv newspaper earlier on Thursday indicated that Israel has asked the United States for advanced "bunker-buster" bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran's underground nuclear sites.
On Tuesday, Haaretz quoted a U.S. official as indicating that Netanyahu had asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for the GBU-28 bunker busting bombs as well as for advanced refueling aircraft.
The source added that Obama then instructed Panetta to start work on a request to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.
However, Carney's comments on Thursday seemed to specifically relate to those meetings participated by Obama and Netanyahu, while failing to comment about the content of other lower-level talks.
"We have obviously high-level cooperation between the Israeli military and the U.S. military, and at other levels and with other agencies within their government and our government", Carney said, "adding: "That was not a subject of discussion in the president's meetings."
The White House official then pointed to the U.S.'s extensive cooperation "with the Israeli military. We have provided material to the Israeli military in the past, and I'm sure we will continue to do that as part of our cooperation with and partnership with the Israeli military."
Carney noted that "there is agreement between this administration, this government and the Israeli government on what Iran is doing and where it is in the process of its nuclear program. And there is great coordination between this government and the Israeli government, between our militaries and between our intelligence officials, and that will continue."
Finally, the White House spokesperson commented on apparent praise given to Obama by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei over the U.S. president's apparent ability to stem Israel's intention to attack Iran.
"The president's policy toward Iran is focused in a very clear-eyed way on Iranian behavior, certainly not on rhetoric of any kind", Carney said. "We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and Iran continues to violate its obligations and has not yet demonstrated the peaceful intent of its nuclear program."
Referring to the prospect of a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, Netanyahu told Channel 10 earlier Thursday that a strike of Iran's nuclear facilities is not a "matter of days, weeks, but not a matter of years," adding:" If I don't make the right call [on Iran] maybe there won't be anyone to explain to."
"Who will I explain it to? The next generations? The ones that will not come?" the PM asked.