Pushing Bush to Attack Iran

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, June 4, 2008; 11:57 AM

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to use his White House visit today to push President Bush to take a more aggressive approach toward Iran -- and there are some signs that he'll have a receptive audience.

Both Olmert and Bush are badly wounded and looking for salvation. Olmert is facing corruption allegations that could drive him from office. Bush is wildly unpopular, desperate to salvage his legacy and fighting irrelevance as the general election begins in earnest -- with even the Republican candidate trying to keep him at a distance.

It's in this environment that the Jewish Telegraph Agency reports: "Ehud Olmert will urge President Bush to prepare an attack on Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported.

"Citing sources close to the Israeli prime minister, Yediot Achronot reported on its front page Wednesday that Olmert, who is due to hold closed-door talks with Bush in Washington, will say that 'time is running out' on diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program.

"The United States should therefore prepare to attack Iran, Olmert will tell Bush, according to Yediot."

Olmert certainly telegraphed as much in public last night. Matti Friedman writes for the Associated Press that "the Israeli prime minister told thousands of Israel supporters at the annual convention of the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the Iranian threat 'must be stopped by all possible means.'

"Olmert said international sanctions aimed at stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons must be ratcheted up urgently. . . .

"But sanctions are 'only an initial step,' and Iran's flouting of the international measures so far 'leave no doubt as to the urgent need for more drastic and robust measures,' Olmert said."

AFP reports: "'Israel will not tolerate the possibility of a nuclear Iran, and neither should any other country in the free world,' the premier said, in the strongest remarks the Israeli leader has made on the issue."

Tim Butcher writes in the Telegraph: "The speech shortens the odds significantly on military action against Iran's nuclear programme. Israel has twice acted by itself to stop its regional enemies developing a nuclear capability, in Syria last year and Iraq in the 1980s."

And he points out that Olmert's words echoed those used by Bush "in a speech last month to the Israeli parliament in which he said the free world had a duty to stop Iran from going nuclear.

"'Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations,' Mr Bush said.

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