Why would the deposed lame duck prime minister of Israel need to fly to Washington to meet with the outgoing lame duck president of the United States just weeks before both men are relieved of office?
That was the question many Israeli commentators were asking Sunday morning, just hours after caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert departed for the American capital to hold a final round of talks with US President George W. Bush.
Despite the official agenda consisting of casual talks regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace, F-22 fighter jets and Jonathan Pollard, London's Sunday Times claimed to have the real answer in a report citing intelligence sources who suggested Olmert and Bush will be hammering out final details of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
According to those sources, the prospect of an Israeli strike on Iran's main nuclear facilities before US President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in on January 20 has become significantly more likely.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had stockpiled enough enriched uranium to possibly construct a nuclear bomb the size of that which destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II. That would put Iran months, or at most one year, from fielding a nuclear weapon.
Israel is convinced Obama does not intend to exert the kind of pressure needed to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, and certainly will not exercise a military option.
That leaves Israel few options but to exercise its own military option, and if Jerusalem decides to attack it will need at least the tacit cooperation of the US, which controls most of the airspace between Israel and Iran.
Few topics would be urgent enough for two lame duck leaders like Olmert and Bush to get together weeks before both are out of office. But the prospect of Iran building a nuclear weapon within months and Israel needing to eliminate any chance of that happening would be such a topic.
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