The American administration is frustrated with Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s recent outspoken concerns over whether the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities are on the verge of becoming impregnable, the New York Time reported Thursday.
Barak recently coined the phrase "zone of immunity" – referring to the circumstances under which Israel would no longer be willing or able to delay an attack meant to cripple Tehran’s growing hunger for nuclear weapons.
But according to the report, "judging when that moment will arrive has set off an intense debate with the Obama administration, whose officials counter that there are other ways to make Iran vulnerable."
The newspaper also reported that US President Barack Obama has been able to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to afford some time for the international sanctions imposed on Iran to work.
Washington insists that Israel and the West "have more time and should allow sanctions and covert actions to deter Iran’s plans."
The report said that the difference of opinion between Israel and the US over Iran’s "immunity" against a strike is critical, "because it plays into not just the timing – or bluffing – about a possible military strike, but the calculations about how deeply and quickly sanctions against Iran must bite."
A top Obama administration official told NYT that "’Zone of immunity’ is an ill-defined term," adding that the White House was frustrated with Israel’s "narrow view of the Iranian issue."
At its core, the official said, "The argument the Israelis make is that once the Iranians get an impregnable breakout capability – that is, a place that is protected from a military strike – it will make no difference whether it will take Iran six months or a year or five years to create a nuclear weapon."
"There are many other options to slow Iran’s march towards a completed weapon," a second official said. "Like shutting off Iran’s oil revenues, taking out facilities that supply centrifuge parts or singling out installations where the Iranians would turn the fuel into a weapon."
Sources in the US administration welcomed Netanyahu’s approach to the Iranian threat and his order to the cabinet ministers to keep stay mum on the subject. "That’s very good advice," a Washington source said."