<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile Bush pressured on 'bunker-buster' bombs but opposes Israeli strike on Iran

Bush pressured on 'bunker-buster' bombs but opposes Israeli strike on Iran

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

WASHINGTON President George Bush was pressured by key members of Congress to approve an Israeli request for bunker-busting air bombs.

Political sources said key Republicans in Congress with access to Bush demanded that the administration approve a long-standing Israeli request for the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. The source said Bush was warned that denying Israel the bunker-busters would threaten Bush's agenda in his remaining months in office as well as Republican prospects in the November 2008 election.

But the officials said Bush was also persuaded that the GBU-39 was not suitable for an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. The 250-pound integrated derivative of the Joint Direct Attack Munition was not regarded as sufficiently powerful to penetrate underground Iranian nuclear plants.

"The administration wants to stop an Israeli attack on Iran at any cost," the political source said.

"It was not a pleasant exchange," a GOP source said. "It was raw power that changed Bush's mind."

The source said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed Israel's requests for the GBU-39 as well as other advanced systems. Ms. Rice and Gates were said to have warned that the Israeli request could be used to attack Iran and Syria and hamper a U.S. reconciliation effort in the Middle East.

"In the end, it was Bush's call and he overruled Condi and Gates," the source said. "The White House said it was an election year and we have to hold our noses."

The sources said they did not want to identify the members of Congress who lobbied for the Israeli request. They said this would embarrass the White House and rule out future cooperation with those members of Congress.

The White House, under congressional pressure, also approved Israel's requests for the modernization of the PAC-2 missile defense system to PAC-3 configuration, as well as anti-tank and other systems. But the administration refused an Israeli request for an advanced aircraft sensor pod designed to facilitate long-range attacks by the F-15 fighter-jet in all weather.

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