The White House artfully pushed back Thursday on a report in an Israeli newspaper that claimed the U.S. offered Israel high-tech weaponry like bunker-busting bombs and refueling planes in exchange for a pledge to hold off on attacking Iran until 2013.
Press Secretary Jay Carney, asked about the article at the daily briefing, said "there was no such agreement proposed or reached" in meetings President Obama held -- without appearing to comment on what other officials might have discussed.
"We have ... high-level cooperation between the Israeli military and the U.S. military, at other levels with other agencies in their government and our government, but that was not a subject of discussion in the president's meetings," Carney said.
Defense officials, though, told Fox News that no "sweeteners" were offered to the Israelis during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit this past week.
One senior Pentagon official said "no promises were made, no deals were struck, but weapons were discussed -- as you would expect in a meeting with the defense secretary."
The report in the Israeli paper Maariv came as Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of a strike by Israel dominate the discussion in Washington and Jerusalem. Obama earlier in the week used a press conference to urge the international community to allow more time for sanctions to work -- he repeatedly has cautioned against the "loose talk of war" in Washington.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an interview Thursday, though, that the Pentagon "absolutely" is preparing possible military options for a strike on Iran, in a rare public acknowledgment shortly after Obama met with Netanyahu.
He also noted that a U.S. strike would be more effective than an Israeli one.
"If they decided to do it, there's no question that it would have an impact, but I think it's also clear that if the United States did it we would have a hell of a bigger impact," Panetta told the National Journal.
Panetta, in the interview with the Journal, said the U.S. has been examining military options regarding Iran "for a long time."
Carney later downplayed Panetta's comments, saying it is only a "matter of course" for the Pentagon to be preparing "contingency" plans.
"It would be irresponsible not to," Carney said.
Obama, in an interview last week with the Atlantic magazine, also said the "military component" is the final option the U.S. would consider with Iran.