Jerusalem: Emphasising Israel's right to act independently to safeguard its security interests, the Jewish state in its first toned down message has expressed hopes that it may not have to unilaterally carry out a military attack against Iran to foil its nuclear ambitions due to an unprecedented concentration of US forces in the Persian Gulf.
Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak hinted on Thursday evening that there may be no need for an Israeli strike on Iran shortly after meeting with Admiral James Winnefeld, the US vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is visiting Israel.
"Israel retains its right to make sovereign decisions and the United States respects that," Barak said at his Atzmaut party gathering.
"However, one should not ignore the impressive preparations by the Americans to counter Iran on all fronts," he added in a mellowed down message after weeks of hard-hitting rhetoric responded in equal measure by Tehran.
Barak made the comments after he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were briefed by US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon regarding US preparations for a possible confrontation with Iran, daily Ha'aretz reported.
The Israeli Defence Minister said that while there are differences between the Israeli and American points of view on Iran, "the US is our most important ally.
The intelligence cooperation and security backing Israel receives at present is exceptional in its scope”.
"As opposed to the Bush administration, the Obama administration is indeed carrying out steps in the Gulf, transferring forces and preparing bases," a top Israeli official separately told Ha'aretz.
"There is an unprecedented US deployment opposite Iran," the source was quoted as saying echoing Barak's sentiments.
Israel has dubbed Iran's nuclear programme an existential threat, vowing from time to time to bomb the Islamic Republic's nuclear installations.
Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
First Published: Friday, September 07, 2012, 09:09