Israel was reportedly set to bomb Iran nuclear facilities in 2012, but aborted the operation because it coincided with a joint military exercise with the United States. The attack was being readied for January of that year, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on August 22, until it became clear that a long planned Israeli-American training drill in Israel would happen at that time, according to the Times of Israel.
The Channel 2 report – based on tape recordings of then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other unnamed foreign reports – indicated that Israel was prepared to go ahead with the strike on Iran even though the United States opposed it. But Israel did not want to go as far as defying the U.S. while American troops were training with the Israel Defense Forces in Israel.
“We intended to carry it out, so I went to [then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta and asked him if we could change the date of the exercise,” Barak said in a recording broadcast by Channel 2. “So they delayed it as much as they could … to a few days before the election [in the U.S. that November].” Barak continued: “Things did not work out in the first part in 2012 and [the strike] was pushed back toward the end [of the year].” But the new date also did not work out, Barak said. He did not elaborate.
“You demand that America respect your sovereignty and decide you want to do it [strike Iran], even if America is opposed and it is contrary to their interests,” Barak said in the recording. “You can’t find yourself then going back on that by trying to force America to be party to [the strike] just as it comes here for a pre-planned drill. That’s how it ran into difficulties in 2012.”
A Channel 2 news broadcast based on recordings of Barak also revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to strike Iranian facilities in 2010 and 2011 but was blocked by other Israeli leaders. Barak said he and Netanyahu wanted to order an Israel Air Force attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi stopped them in 2010, saying the IDF was not prepared. Later, Barak said, Moshe Ya’alon, now the defense minister, and Yuval Steinitz, then finance minister and now the minister of energy, objected.