Israeli defence officials ruled out a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities as early as 2005, US diplomatic cables leaked to whistleblower site WikiLeaks show, an Israeli newspaper said on Sunday.
The documents given to Haaretz newspaper by WikiLeaks detail conversations between US diplomats and Israeli defence officials, which suggested that Israel did not plan to target Iran's controversial nuclear programme.
According to Haaretz, one December 2005 cable said Israeli officials had indicated there was "no chance of a military attack being carried out on Iran".
Another telegram a month later, detailing talks between a US congressman and the then deputy chief of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, offered a stronger suggestion that Israel considered a strike on Iran's facilities unfeasible.
Deputy chief Ariel Levite "said that most Israeli officials do not believe a military solution is possible," Haaretz quoted the telegram as saying.
"They believe Iran has learned from Israel's attack on Iraq's Osirak reactor (in 1981) and has dispersed the components of its nuclear programme throughout Iran, with some elements in places that Israel does not know about."
Israel, which has the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal, regards Iran as its number one enemy after repeated predictions by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state is doomed to collapse.
Along with much of the international community, Israel accuses Iran of using its nuclear energy programme to mask a weapons drive. Iran denies the charge, saying the programme is purely for civilian energy and medical purposes.