Report: Israel Requested Jordan's 'Permission' to Attack Syria Chemical Weapons Sites

Netanyahu sent reps to Amman twice in the last two months, fearing Jordan's response if Israel went ahead without approval, Jeffrey Goldberg writes in The Atlantic.

Israel has asked Jordan twice in the last two months for a green light to attack chemical weapons facilities in Syria, according to a report by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent representatives of the Mossad intelligence agency to Amman twice already, to coordinate the matter with the Jordanians and receive their "permission" for the operation, Goldberg wrote.

The Jordanians, however, responded negatively to the request and refused to grant their approval. American officials quoted in the article said the Jordanians told Israel the "time was not right" for such an action.

Goldberg wrote further that while Israel could carry out an operation of the kind without Jordan's approval, they were worried about the repercussions it could spark.

"Intelligence sources told me that Israeli drones are patrolling the skies over the Jordan-Syria border, and that both American and Israeli drones are keeping watch over suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites," he added.

Goldberg said he had requested comment from the Israeli embassy in Washington, but had not received a response.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh declined to comment on the report that Israel had sought Jordanian permission to strike Syrian WMD sites, but did say his country was monitoring the situation closely and that his government was talking to countries in the region. "We have to be prepared for different scenarios," he said at a press conference Monday, adding that the Syrian regime is currently in control of these weapons and understands that using them would be a "game changer."

The New York Times reported Sunday that western intelligence officials said they have been seeing new signs of activity at Syrian sites used to hold chemical weapons.

The officials said they were not sure whether the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad were preparing to employ the chemical weapons, or rather use them to deter the West from aiding the rebels.

“It’s in some ways similar to what they’ve done before,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told the New York Times. “But they’re doing some things that suggest they intend to use the weapons. It’s not just moving stuff around. These are different kind[s] of activities.”

The U.S. official noted that Assad forces are yet to take flagrant steps that would indicate that they plan to use the weapons, such as preparing them to be fired by artillery batteries.

U.S. officials believe Syria potentially has dozens of chemical and biological weapons sites scattered across the country. Its stockpiles are thought to include nerve agents such as VX, sarin and tabun.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in September that Syrians have moved some of their chemical weapons capability to better secure it, but the country's main chemical weapons sites remain intact and secure under government control.

Panetta said U.S. intelligence showed the major Syrian sites were secure in government hands, but some chemicals had been moved.

GlobalSecurity.org