Senior US defense officials assured visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week that the Bush Administration still views a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as a viable last-resort option.
Pentagon sources who spoke to the Los Angeles Times said Barak was told that the US had not written off military action against Iran, but that it wanted to emphasize diplomatic efforts to compel the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear program.
And that is where the difference between the two nations' approaches lies, noted the newspaper. During the talks, Barak stressed the importance of emphasizing the military option in order to give teeth to diplomatic efforts that have born little fruit over the past five years.
Despite the differing points of view, Barak was upbeat during a press conference with Israeli reporters following his meetings with US leaders.
"It was important for the Americans to understand our stance and its derivatives, and I think they understand this better now, after this visit," said Barak.
The defense minister also said that the Bush Administration had agreed to connect Israel to America's global missile defense system, which can detect an impending Iranian attack while the missiles' engines are still warming up.