Published February 24, 2007
LONDON – Israel opened negotiations to fly through U.S. controlled airspace in Iraq to carry out strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, a British newspaper reported Saturday. Israel's deputy defense minister denied the claim.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted an unnamed Israeli defense official as saying the talks were aimed at planning for all scenarios, including any future decision to target Iran's nuclear program.
Israeli bombers would need a corridor through U.S.-administered airspace in Iraq to carry out any strikes, the official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Ephraim Sneh, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the report was incorrect. "This is baseless information," Sneh said. "Maybe people like to divert (attention from) the need for immediate economic sanctions (with) stories about imminent Israeli action, which is not on the agenda."
The international community's focus should be on imposing economic sanctions on Iran for defying U.N. Security Council resolutions, he said.
Senior officials of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — Britain, the U.S., France, China and Russia — and Germany are meeting Monday for an emergency summit in London to discuss measures against Tehran.
The U.S. and its Western allies insist Iran must suspend uranium enrichment before any negotiations over its nuclear program take place and accused Tehran of using a civilian program as a cover to develop weapons.
Iran, has rejected the condition to suspend enrichment and insists that its nuclear program is peaceful.