A Time Magazine article citing Israeli military officials suggests a sophisticated long-range American radar system about to be deployed in Israel may be less about providing early warning of an Iranian missile attack, and more about hemming in Russia.
The radar base will be the first permanent deployment of foreign troops on Israeli soil in the country's short 60-year modern history.
Initial reports were that Washington offered the early-warning radar to Israel as compensation for not supporting plans to preemptively attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
But Time learned that Israel will not have direct access to the data collected by the radar, and will only be fed intelligence second-hand on a need-to-know basis by the Americans. That means Israel will not know whether the radar is trained on Iran or southern Russia.
Furthermore, the US tried to obtain permission to deploy the radar in Turkey and Jordan earlier this year, but was rebuffed by those nations.
Now top Israeli military officials are concerned that the deployment of the radar in Israel will elicit the same Russian anger as the recent deployment of similar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Washington said the radars were to defend against an Iranian attack on Europe, but Moscow remains convinced that its own strategic forces are the target and threatened to add both Poland and the Czech Republic to its list of missile targets in response. The Israelis fear the Jewish state will now make that same list.
Additionally, Russia could respond to the deployment of the American radar by selling advanced defensive and offensive weapons systems to Iran and Israel's Arab enemies.