Israel has conducted military exercises for a pre-emptive strike against several of Iran’s nuclear power facilities and is ready to attack if Russia supplies Iran with rods for enriching uranium, Israeli officials told reporters.
An Israeli defense source in Tel Aviv told the London Sunday Times, which first published the story, that “Israel will on no account permit Iranian reactors – especially the one being built in Bushehr with Russian help – to go critical.”
The source was also quoted as saying that any strike on Iran’s reactors would probably be carried out by long-range F-15I jets, flying over Turkey, with simultaneous operations by commandos on the ground.
F-15I jets in Israeli arsenal (photo: Israeli-Weapons.com)
Russia is expected to deliver the enriching rods, currently being stored at a Russian port, late next year after a dispute over financial terms is resolved.
“If the worst comes to the worst and international efforts fail,” the source said, “we are very confident we’ll be able to demolish the ayatollah’s nuclear aspirations in one go.”
The source explained that any strike could be accompanied by an attack on other Iranian targets, including a facility at Natanz, where the Iranians have attempted to enrich uranium, and a plant at Arak, which International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors suspect of nuclear activity.
The Sunday Times also quoted a senior U.S. official warning of a pre-emptive Israeli strike if Russia continues cooperating with the Iranians. He said Washington was unlikely to block Israeli attacks against Iran.
The paper quoted a classified document on the Iranian threat which was presented to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon earlier this year and which the paper claims to have seen. The document, entitled “The Strategic Future of Israel,” was first reported by Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, a premium, online intelligence newsletter published by WorldNetDaily.
G2 quotes the report, which was drafted by four of Israel’s senior defense experts, as saying “All enemy targets should be selected with the view that their destruction would promptly force the enemy to cease all nuclear/biological/chemical exchanges with Israel.”
The report also called on Israel to develop a multilayered ballistic missile defense system and described Iran as a “suicide nation,” recommending “targeted killings” of members of the country’s elite, including its leading nuclear scientists.
Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has obligated itself to random inspections supervised by the IAEA. But the treaty allows Iran to produce nuclear material as long as it can plausibly claim the production is for “peaceful purposes.”
Experts warn that Iran can build the infrastructure needed to make nuclear weapons, telling inspectors they need the material for “energy and nuclear medicine research,” and then kick out the inspectors, renounce the treaty and quickly assemble a nuclear arsenal, as did North Korea, which is now said to have ten nuclear warheads.
Under the Iranian deal with Moscow, waste produced at the Bushehr plant containing plutonium that could be used in bomb-making would be shipped back to Russia for storage, but the material must first be cooled, providing Iran with what Washington fears could be up to two years in which to extract the plutonium.
The paper quotes Israeli sources as saying that a quarter ton of plutonium could be produced each a year if Bushehr is fully functional, enough for 20 bombs.
The Sunday Times reports Israeli sources fear a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities could provoke “a ferocious response,” which could involve Lebanese-based rocket attacks on northern Israel or terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets abroad.