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Israel gave US two-hour notice before attack on Iran's Natanz nuclear facility: Report

The decision reflected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of keeping Biden uninformed of Israeli actions in Iran, sources told The New York Times
Iranian and Western intelligence officials said Israel was behind the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility.
Iranian and western intelligence officials said Israel was behind the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility (AFP/File photo)
By MEE staff in Washington

Israel gave the United States less than two hours warning of its plans to attack Iran's Natanz nuclear facility in April, The New York Times reported, citing American and Israeli sources.

After the Natanz attack, CIA director William Burns called his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, expressing concern over the snub, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Cohen said the short notice was due to operational constraints and uncertainty about when exactly it would take place.

The reported move by Israel reflected then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of keeping US President Joe Biden uninformed of Israeli actions in Iran, which stemmed from a distrust of the current administration, sources told the Times.

The short notice reportedly gave US intelligence agencies little to no time to respond and provide their insight. After the attack occurred, the US claimed no part in it.

Iranian and western intelligence officials said Israel was behind the 11 April attack on the nuclear facility - with Tehran describing it as an act of "nuclear terrorism" - but Israel has not claimed responsibility.

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The attack also occurred less than a week after the first indirect talks began between US and Iranian diplomats to bring Washington back into the 2015 nuclear deal.

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White House sources told the newspaper that under Biden, Israel had violated an unwritten understanding between the two countries, in which Israel would consult with the US about covert operations, giving Washington room to give its opinion and sometimes object.

This was in contrast with former President Donald Trump, whose administration worked hand-in-hand with Israel on such operations.

Israeli sources said they concealed information from their US counterparts because there had been leaks regarding earlier operations, a charge that American officials denied.

Other Israeli sources said the US had not been attentive to Israeli concerns over Iran and were too focused on reviving the nuclear deal.

Since coming into office, Biden has sought a return to the Iran nuclear accord that Trump left. Israel has been vehemently opposed to returning to the deal, which lifted wide-ranging sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear programme.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his meeting with Biden, set for Friday, will be an opportunity to reset the relationship between the two countries and promised a more constructive approach.

Ahead of his visit with the US president, Bennett said he would present a new strategic vision on the Islamic Republic and added that Israel would continue covert attacks on Iran's nuclear programme.

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