Bush Blocked Israeli Strike on Iran, OK'd Covert Ops

President refused requests for missiles, but began covert sabotage missions
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2009 6:07 PM CST
President George W. Bush told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran's suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)
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(Newser) – Washington stopped Israel from bombing Iran last year and told the Jewish state of covert plans to undermine Iran's nuclear ambitions, the New York Times reports. Israel asked President Bush to aid the strike with bunker-busting bombs and a free pass over Iraqi air space, which he refused—but he secretly authorized operations to sabotage Tehran’s burgeoning nuclear program.

After tense negotiations, Washington concluded that an Israeli attack would be ineffective, push Iran to expel weapons inspectors, and inflame a broad Mideast war entangling American troops. Now, reports the Times, Barack Obama must decide whether to continue Bush's covert program, or disband it and risk inviting charges that he allowed Iran to go nuclear.