Bolton Accuses Administration of Leaking Israeli Planning Along Iran Border
Former diplomat John Bolton on Thursday accused the Obama administration of leaking information about Israeli planning along Iran’s border, possibly as a prelude to a strike against Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure.
Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, pointed to a story in Foreign Policy Magazine that said Israel has gained access to airbases in Azerbaijan, which borders Iran on the north, possibly as a staging area for a future attack.
“I think this leak today is part of the administration’s campaign against an Israeli attack,” he told Fox News. The White House did not respond to the charge, Fox News reported.
Speaking to the network later, Bolton – who is a Fox News contributor – said he did not have hard evidence to support his claim. But he cited comments from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in February, who said he believed the Israelis could strike Iran as soon as April.
If that’s true, Bolton said it would be “entirely consistent” for the administration to want to stop that, based on its earlier stated opposition to any Israeli strike.
Foreign Policy quoted high-ranking administration officials the magazine identified as “high-level sources … inside the U.S. government.” It specifically mentioned “four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers.”
One of the unnamed officials told the magazine the U.S. government was “watching” the Israeli activity and was “not happy about it.”
“Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak,” Bolton said. “This is not a rogue CIA guy saying I think I’ll leak this out.”
“It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies,” he added.
The FP article said Azeri officials have denied granting Israel any rights to airbases, saying the country is a friend of Iran.
Still, relations between both nations have frayed, in recent years, FP reported, even as relations with Israel have been improving.
“Israel’s deepening relationship with the Baku government was cemented in February by a $1.6 billion arms agreement that provides Azerbaijan with sophisticated drones and missile-defense systems,” the magazine reported.
“At the same time, Baku’s ties with Tehran have frayed: Iran presented a note to Azerbaijan’s ambassador last month claiming that Baku has supported Israeli-trained assassination squads targeting Iranian scientists, an accusation the Azeri government called ‘a slander,’” it said.
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