The Haaretz newspaper cited a source close to U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's transition team as saying "the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran."
Israel is widely believed to have had its own nuclear weapons since the late 1960s, but does not officially confirm or deny their existence. As of the late 1990s, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed up to 130 nuclear warheads.
According to the source, the U.S. nuclear guarantee would be backed by a new Israeli missile defense system, and the U.S. early-warning radar system already deployed in the Negev desert to counter Iranian missiles.
The paper suggested that by granting Israel a nuclear guarantee the U.S. is willing to come to terms with a nuclear Iran, where the uranium enrichment program has reportedly "passed beyond the point of no return."
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, admitted in an interview with the Los Angeles Times published on December 6 that international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear activity have been futile.
Tehran is under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear program, but over the past five years has steadily advanced with its controversial nuclear program.
The IAEA reported last month that Iran now has more than 5,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges in operation.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Obama vowed to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program, offering economic incentives for the country to abandon its uranium enrichment program, along with the threat of tougher sanctions if it refused the deal.
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