Obama will nuke Iran if Israel nuked, official says
Clinton also seen backing 'nuclear umbrella'


John Byrne
Published: Thursday December 11, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama intends to offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" in the event of a nuclear strike by Iran, according to a defense source close to the administration quoted by an Israeli newspaper.

Under such an agreement, the United States would promise to use nuclear weapons against Iran should Israel be atomically attacked. Obama's secretary of State, Sen. Hillary Clinton, promised a similar "massive response" should Israel come under attack during the Democratic presidential debates.

"The source, who is close to the new administration, said the US will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran," the paper Ha'aretz said Thursday.

The source quoted also said that the nuclear guarantee would be backed by a new and improved Israeli anti-ballistic missile defense system, which comes in addition to one the Bush administration helped deploy in the Negev.

Both the ballistic defense system and the comments may suggest that the incoming Administration believes that a nuclear Iran is inevitable.

Soon-to-be Secretary of State Clinton has also proposed that the nuclear shield be extended to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states if they drop their nuclear ambitions. The United States is a massive supplier of weapons and defense technology to Saudi Arabia; the Bush administration recently signed a $20 billion, 10-year deal.

The US is also a supplier of covert arms to Gulf Cooperation Council states, which include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A National Security Council official told Raw Story last year that the $20 billion Saudi deal -- along with the covert arms programs -- was aimed at propping up the monarchy and to isolate Iran.

"The Saudis see Maliki as the cat's paw of Iran and they think we are actively supporting Maliki," the NSC official said. "What the monarchy is actively worried about is that guys who got bloodied in Iraq will return home and overthrow them, and that would be very bad for us."

Obama has said he'd negotiate with Iran and offered economic aid if they agreed to drop their nuclear program. Such a move is unlikely, as Iran sees nuclear weapons as a key element in protecting their country against foreign attack and increasing their presence on the world stage.

The paper quoted a "senior Bush administration official" as rebuking the nuclear guarantee.

"Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed? And what is the point of an American response, after Israel's cities are destroyed in an Iranian nuclear strike?"

Even so, Israel may no longer be able to expect "blank cheques" from Washington once president-elect Obama's administration takes over in January, according to a former US ambassador to the Jewish state.

"The era of the blank cheque is over," Martin Indyk, director of the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, who is considered close to incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said Sunday.