Report: U.S. rejected Israeli plea to attack Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush rejected several Israeli requests last year for weapons and permission for a potential airstrike inside Iran, the author of an investigative report told CNN.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists Iran's nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes.

Israel approached the White House in early 2008 with three requests for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex, said New York Times reporter David Sanger. His article appears in the newspaper on Sunday.

According to Sanger, Israel wanted specialized bunker-busting bombs, equipment to help refuel planes making flights into Iran and permission to fly over Iraq to reach the major nuclear complex at Natanz, the site of Iran's only known uranium enrichment plant.

The White House "deflected" the first two requests and denied the last, Sanger said.

"They feared that if it appeared that the United States had helped Israel strike Iran, using Iraqi airspace, that the result in Iraq could be the expulsion of the American troops (from Iraq)," he said. Video Watch reporter discuss why Israel sought U.S. assistance »

Bush, instead, persuaded Israeli officials to not proceed with the attack by sharing with them some details of covert U.S. operations aimed at sabotaging Iran's nuclear ambitions, Sanger said.

The ongoing operations are designed to undermine Iran's ability to produce weapons-grade fuel and designs it needs to produce a workable nuclear weapon, the newspaper said.