The White House said Thursday that President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in their meetings this week, did not discuss Israel’s reported request for advanced U.S. military equipment that could be used against Iran.
Briefing journalists, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed a report in an Israeli newspaper that Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked for the military technology.
“In the meetings the president had, there was no such agreement proposed or reached," said Carney.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv on Thursday quoted an Israeli official as indicating that Israel had requested so-called “bunker buster” bombs and refueling planes. The equipment could enhance Israel’s ability to strike Iran’s underground nuclear sites.
Earlier this week, another Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, quoted a U.S. official as indicating that Mr. Netanyahu had asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for the equipment. Carney did not address that report.
The president’s spokesman was also asked about a report in the U.S. publication National Journal, in which Panetta was quoted as saying potential plans to strike Iran have been drawn up.
“As I understand it, the Pentagon is, as a matter of course, frequently examining contingencies and preparing contingency plans for different possibilities," he said. "It would be irresponsible not to.”
In addition, Carney downplayed reported comments by Iran’s supreme leader, praising President Obama for saying that a “window of opportunity” exists for talks with Iran.
Iranian media quote Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying Mr. Obama’s remarks were “good words” and “an exit from delusion.”
Carney said the Obama administration is skeptical about the Iranian leader’s statement.
“The president’s policy toward Iran is focused in a very clear-eyed way on Iranian behavior, certainly not on rhetoric of any kind," said Carney.
The press secretary said Tehran’s actions have not changed.
“And Iran continues to violate its obligations and has not yet demonstrated the peaceful intent of its nuclear program," he said.
Iran has said repeatedly that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.