Jerusalem, July 29 - The US has shared with close ally Israel contingency plans for a possible military attack on Iran should diplomacy fail to contain Tehran's nuclear ambitions, a media report here has said.
US National Security Adviser Don Donilon shared the details with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent visit to Jerusalem two weeks ago, an American officials told daily Ha'aretz on condition of anonymity.
Netanyahu is said to have hosted Donilon at a three-hour dinner when Israel's NSA, Yaakov Amidror, is also said to have been present for part of the time.
Renewing the US commitment to Israel's security, Donilon is said to have conveyed to the hawkish Israeli Premier that reports of such preparations by the US is "not just a way to assuage Israel's concerns" but Washington is "seriously preparing for the possibility that negotiations will reach a dead end and military action will become necessary," the daily said.
The US official reportedly said that Donilon shared information on Washington's weaponry and military capabilities for dealing with Iran's nuclear facilities, including those deep underground.
The United States NSA's talks in Jerusalem, coming ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Israel, were kept under the wraps for a while.
However, another US official involved in the talks told the same Israeli daily that "based on the intelligence we have, we think there is still time for diplomacy, and the time for a military operation against Iran has not yet come."
A spokesman for the US National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, declined to comment on the details of a private conversation between Netanyahu and Donilon.
In another development being linked to possible preparations of an attack against Iran, the Secretary of the US Air Force, Michael Donley, told the Capitol Hill Club last week that the force's new bunker buster bombs were ready for use if needed.
In recent months, the bombs have undergone technical improvements.
The bombs, each weighing 15 tonnes, can destroy fortified bunkers deep underground where chemical or nuclear weapons may be stored.
This would include the uranium enrichment facility deep inside the mountains near the Iranian city of Qom, the report said.
The United States has told Israel several times that the existence of such weapons means Iran will never reach the point where its nuclear facilities are immune to attack.
American attempts to allay Israeli concerns will continue this week with the arrival on Tuesday of Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.
He is scheduled to meet Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and senior security and intelligence officials on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the United States and its allies continue to ratchet up the economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran.
Despite these efforts, the diplomatic channels to persuade Israel seem to have hit a roadblock.
Israel's ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has discussed the lack of progress in talks with the Iranians at a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Ashton is holding talks in Brussels with Iran as the representative of the six powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
The day before Ashton's meeting with Lieberman, her deputy, Helga Schmid, met in Istanbul with Iran's deputy chief of negotiations, Ali Bagheri.
According to a senior Israeli official, when Lieberman and his associates asked Schmid how the meeting ended, they were told there was "nothing new".
Lieberman told Ashton that the stalled talks proved that the time had come to move from talk to action to stop Iran.
However, Ashton, who is to meet in the coming days with the head of Iran's negotiating team Saeed Jalili, told Lieberman she had not given up on diplomatic efforts. PTI