US President-elect Barack Obama plans to offer Israel a nuclear umbrella against any nuclear threat from Iran, Haaretz reported on Thursday, December 11.
A well-placed American source said the Obama administration would pledge an "attack in kind" against Tehran over any nuclear strike on Israel.
The source said the American nuclear umbrella would be backed by Israel’s new anti-ballistic missile system.
Under the Bush administration, the US has deployed an early-warning radar system in the Negev to detect Iranian ballistic missiles.
An official in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office declined to comment on the report.
"We do not engage in speculation whose source is unclear," he said.
An aide to right-wing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also declined to comment.
A spokesman for the US embassy in Tel Aviv said he could make no statement "on what a future administration’s policy might or might not be".
Obama, who will be inaugurated on January 20, said this week that he would negotiate with Iran to freeze its nuclear program.
"We need to ratchet up tough but direct diplomacy with Iran," he said in an interview on the NBC’s "Meet the Press" on Sunday, promising a "set of carrots and sticks."
The West, led by the US, accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists that its program is for peaceful civilian use.
Secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton had already raised the idea of offering Israeli a nuclear umbrella during her presidential campaign.
In a debate with Obama in April, Clinton said Israel and Arab allies must be given "deterrent backing".
"Iran must know that an attack on Israel will draw a massive response," she said.
Speculation on a US nuclear umbrella for Israel was raised two years ago when President George W. Bush said that the US would "rise to Israel’s defense" in the face of Iranian threats.
Israel is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with experts saying it has no less than 200 nuclear warheads.
Israel has long declined to confirm or deny having nuclear bomb as part of a strategic ambiguity policy.
US intelligence agencies routinely omit Israel from semiannual reports to Congress identifying countries developing weapons of mass destruction to protect it from any economic or military sanctions.
A declassified British documents has showed London helped Israel obtain its nuclear bomb 40 years ago.
(IslamOnline.net and newspapers)