Obama Promised to Bolster Israel's Strategic Capabilities, Jerusalem Officials Say

Obama offered Netanyahu guarantees that the U.S. would not let any decision made during the recent NPT review conference 'harm Israel's vital interests.'

U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

A senior political source in Jerusalem said Sunday that Israel received guarantees from U.S. President Barack Obama that the U.S. would maintain and improve Israel's strategic and deterrence capabilities.

According to the source, "Obama gave [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu unequivocal guarantees that include a substantial upgrade in Israel-U.S. relations."

Obama promised that no decision taken during the recent 189-nation conference to review and strengthen the 40-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty "would be allowed to harm Israel's vital interests," the sources said.

The NPT review conference, which concluded last week, ended with a call on Israel to sign the treaty – a signature that would mean the end of Israel's long-time nuclear ambiguity policy. The conference also called for the removal of weapons of mass destruction from the entire Middle East. The U.S. supported the call, but Obama and other senior administration officials were quick to counter this support with declarations of support for Israel.

Netanyahu was set to discuss the guarantees with Obama during their White House meeting Sunday evening, and the American president was expected to reiterate his message of public support. Over the last two months, the two countries have been in constant contact in efforts to soften the blow that the NPT conference was expected to deal Israel.