WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney had at one point considered asking Israel to launch limited missile strikes at an Iranian nuclear site to provoke a retaliation, Newsweek magazine reported on Sunday.
The news comes amid reports that Israel launched an air strike against Syria this month over a suspected nuclear site.
Citing two unidentified sources, Newsweek said former Cheney Middle East adviser David Wurmser told a small group several months ago that Cheney was considering asking Israel to strike the Iranian nuclear site at Natanz.
A military response by Iran could give Washington an excuse to then launch airstrikes of its own, Newsweek said.
Wurmser’s wife, Meyrav Wurmser of the neoconservative Hudson Institute think tank, told Newsweek the claims were untrue.
Wurmser left Cheney’s office last month, the magazine reported. The steady departure of neoconservative hawks from the administration has also helped tilt the balance against war, it said.
Washington has been pursuing diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to alter its nuclear program. It has refused to take military options off the table, even U.S. resources are taxed by having 169,000 troops in Iraq.
Although some intelligence sources say Iran is years away from nuclear capability, Israel believes that military action may be necessary as early as 2008, Newsweek said.
Israel has declined to comment on the reported air strike, while Syria has denied receiving North Korean nuclear aid and said it could retaliate for the September 6 violation of its territory.