U.S. President Barack Obama planned to ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu next week not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months and to let sanctions take full effect, reports said on Saturday.
Obama would meet with Netanyahu on Monday and try to persuade Netanyahu to wait for the effectiveness of sanctions and realize the dangers of an Israeli attack. "We're trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel," said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, according to Washington Post.
Israeli leader had made clear they think time was running out to stop Iran from achieving the ability to build a nuclear weapon. But U.S. officials feared that a preemptive Israeli attack could set off a regional war.
Some officials said that Israel would not give the United States warning if it decided to attack Iran, allowing the administration to deny prior knowledge but also limiting its ability to defend U.S. military assets in the region.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in January showed that very few respondents, including Republicans, favored a U.S. military operation against Iran over allowing time for diplomatic efforts such as the oil and banking sanctions to take effect.
Such reports indicated a widening gap between the United States and Israel on how to tackle the Iranian nuclear issue. Israelis officials believed that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons and the window for military attacks were closing, while the United States said there was no evidence that Iran had made up its mind to make a nuclear bomb, citing serious consequences of a military strike, including retaliations against U.S. interests, instability in the region and impact to the fragile global economy.
Iranian leaders have said its uranium enrichment program is for civilian power purposes, but the International Atomic Energy Agency alleged Iran's nuclear activities had a military intent.