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Report: CIA Chief Warned Israel Not to Bomb Iran in Secret Visit

The director of the CIA was recently sent on a secret mission to Israel to warn its leaders not to launch a surprise attack on Iran without notifying the Obama administration, the Times of London reported on Thursday.

FOX News could not immediately confirm the report.

As Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, prepares to visit Washington, it emerged on Thursday that Leon Panetta went to Israel two weeks ago. He sought assurances from Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the defense minister, that their hawkish new government would not attack Iran without alerting Washington.

Concerns have been rising that Netanyahu could launch a strike on Tehran’s atomic program, in the same way that Israel hit Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in 1981. Israel has been preparing for such an eventuality. It has carried out long-distance maneuvers and is due to hold its largest civil defense drills this summer. The country’s leaders reportedly told Panetta that they did not "intend to surprise the U.S. on Iran."

Netanyahu will leave for Washington this weekend, where he will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama, whom he will try to convince of the need for tougher action against Iran.

Obama favors trying to engage Tehran, but his efforts have been received coolly by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Israeli leader is expected to insist that the U.S. stays focused on Iran, rather than tackling stalled talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has held meetings with Arab leaders this week, including President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan. Both Sunni leaders share Israel’s fears of a resurgent Shia Iran.

Click to read the full story from the Times of London.