- - Tuesday, September 11, 2012

JERUSALEM — An Israeli official has cited a 2007 airstrike on a Syrian nuclear reactor — which Israel has never publicly acknowledged — to justify the Jewish state’s right to launch a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities if the U.S. refrains from action.

“President [George W.] Bush did not agree to the United States taking part [in the 2007 raid], but in any event the right step was taken,” Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday on Israel Radio.

Mr. Erdan’s unprecedented comments come amid reports of discord between U.S. and Israeli officials over how to deal with Iran’s atomic program. Israeli leaders have called for a military strike, but U.S. leaders have been ambiguous supporting about such action, saying that international sanctions against Iran’s oil industry need more time to work.

The comments also have come amid new reports that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has received more evidence of Iran’s work in developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons.


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued his debate with Obama administration over its refusal to draw a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program — a line that, if crossed by Tehran, would draw U.S. military response. Only if such a line is drawn, the Israeli leader has said, would Israel take a unilateral attack off the table.

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,’ ” Mr. Netanyahu said Tuesday. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”