Official Hints Israel Has Shelved Its Plan for Attack on Iran

JERUSALEM — Israel’s departing defense minister, Ehud Barak, said that the Pentagon had prepared sophisticated blueprints for a surgical operation to set back Iran’s nuclear program should the United States decide to attack — a statement that was a possible indication that Israel might have shelved any plans for a unilateral strike, at least for now.

In an interview conducted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and published by The Daily Beast on Friday, Mr. Barak was asked if there was any way Israel could go to war with Iran over what many in the West believe is a nuclear weapons program without dragging in the United States.

Mr. Barak replied that there were more than just the two options — of full-scale war or allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capability — in the event that sanctions and diplomacy failed.

“What we basically say is that if worse comes to worst, there should be a readiness and an ability to launch a surgical operation that will delay them by a significant time frame and probably convince them that it won’t work because the world is determined to block them,” he said.

Under orders from the White House, “the Pentagon prepared quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels,” Mr. Barak added, referring to the ability to carry out pinpoint strikes.

Herbert Krosney, an American-Israeli analyst and the author of a book about the arming of Iran and Iraq, said Mr. Barak’s statement now “indicates that there is close cooperation” between Israel and the United States following months of tension between the country’s leaders (though military and intelligence services continued to work together closely).

“I think there is a realization in Israel that it would be extremely difficult for Israel to operate alone,” he said.

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