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JERUSALEM – With Tehran announcing it will shortly resume some nuclear activities in spite of ongoing negotiations with European countries, a private report that was issued to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urging an American or Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran has been gaining some steam here.
“Iran is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including (uranium) enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes,” Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a United Nations conference yesterday. He was the fourth Iranian official to make such remarks the past few days.
An EU negotiation team represented by Germany, France and the UK, which has been seeking guarantees Iran will not use its nuclear program to develop weapons, said if Tehran follows through with the threat to enrich uranium it could refer the country to the U.N. Security Council for punitive action.
Reports continue to stream in that Iran – with the assistance of Russia – has been moving ahead with its nuclear program. Several reactors with advanced production capabilities have been built, and Russia has been contemplating providing Tehran with rods that are able to enrich uranium, a deal that was first reported last September.
Russia also recently trained a group of senior Iranian nuclear scientists and has installed a mobile anti-missile system to protect Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor, with similar systems allegedly in the works for other Iranian nuclear facilities, including a facility in central Iran.
Top Iranian officials have repeatedly warned they would use nuclear missiles to threaten the Jewish state. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has many times stated he would “vaporize the Zionist entity” if Iran obtained a nuclear bomb.
In response to the growing Iranian threat, a panel of foreign policy and military experts delivered to Sharon last year a series of recommendations entitled “Project Daniel: Israel’s Strategic Future,” regarding Israeli pre-emptive action.
The authors of the plan, first reported by Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, a premium online intelligence newsletter, told WorldNetDaily this week their report has been gaining traction in certain high-level military circles.
“Decision-makers at the very highest levels of government in Jerusalem and Washington as well as NATO have been briefed on Project Daniel. Sharon last month carried our urgent message directly to President Bush,” said Dr. Louis Rene Beres, Project Daniel chair and a professor of international law at Purdue University whose books and articles are routinely considered by military officials.
Project Daniel recommends that with Tehran now developing the infrastructure that could allow the country to go nuclear, the United States or Israel should strike pre-emptively against Iran’s nuclear installations if the diplomatic track fails.
“The group suggests strongly and unequivocally that conventional Israeli pre-emption against selected enemy nuclear infrastructures now in development be executed as early as possible and – wherever possible – in collaboration with the United States. Where America may be unable or unwilling to act proactively against these infrastructures, it is essential that Israel be able and willing to act alone,” says the report.
Project Daniel urges Israel to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities using covert operations, conventional weaponry and, if it can be reasonably assured of success, by targeting Iran’s regime leadership.
“Pre-emption may be overt or covert, and range from ‘decapitation’ to full-scale military operations,” says the report.
Co-author Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, a former Knesset member and the former chief of planning for the Israeli Air Force, told WND military action should include “striking all known Iran nuclear facilities, including hidden facilities, underground tunnels, covert operations, such as the killing of scientists … whatever is necessary.”
Other report authors include the former head of the IDF general staff, a department head from Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant and several expert analysts.
Beres stressed, “Today, more than ever before, the state of Israel must include appropriate pre-emption options in its overall defense strategy. Vastly more vulnerable to catastrophic first-strike aggressions than the United States, Israel must deal now with existential harms in every available fashion.”
He said pre-emption should only be used before Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.
“Attempts at pre-emption against an enemy that had already been allowed to go nuclear may be too risky and could invite an existential retaliation.”
Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has obligated itself to random inspections supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency. 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 while 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.
If Iran obtains a nuclear device, the report recommends Israel should disclose selected elements its own nuclear program.
“The essence of deterrence lies in the communication of capacity and will to those who would do Israel great harm,” says the report.
Israel currently maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity, holding as secret the number, configuration and targeting capabilities of nuclear weapons it possesses.
Should a nuclear Iran make a first-strike threat, the Project Daniel group urges Israel to immediately deter Tehran by threatening to use nuclear bombs to target Iranian population centers.
“To meet its ultimate deterrence objectives – that is, to deter the most overwhelmingly destructive enemy first-strikes, Israel must seek and achieve a visible second-strike capability to target approximately 15 enemy cities. Ranges would be to cities in Libya and Iran, and recognizable nuclear bomb yields would be at a level sufficient to fully compromise the aggressor’s viability as a functioning state,” says the report.
“Israel should focus its resources on counter-value warheads, targeting between 10 and 20 city assets of crucial importance to the enemy, but excluding religious assets wherever possible.
“Choosing countervalue-targeted warheads in the range of maximum destructiveness, Israel will achieve the maximum deterrent effect, and will neutralize the overall asymmetry between the Arabs and the state of Israel. 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.”
Beres described the devastation an Iranian nuclear attack would wreak on the Jewish state.
“Israelis would be killed by the radiation and crushed by collapsing buildings and torn to shreds by flying glass. Others would fall victim to raging firestorms. Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury, produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiations, superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations, and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.
“Water supplies would become altogether unusable. Housing and shelter could be unavailable for survivors. Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels. Food shortages would be critical and long-term. Israel’s complex network of interlocking and interdependent exchange systems would be shattered. Virtually everyone would be deprived of the most basic means of livelihood … in short, normal human society would cease.
“With the passage of time, many of the survivors would expect an increased incidence of serious degenerative diseases and various forms of cancer. They would also expect premature death, impairment of vision and sterility,” said Beres.
Israel has been saying publicly it will not carry out a pre-emptive strike against Iran.
Raanan Gissin, chief spokesperson for Sharon, told WND yesterday, “Israel will not be the pit bull of the world. The nuclearization of Iran is a threat to world security, not just Israel. We support a coalition of democratic, free countries, led by the U.S. to bring Iran to the Security Council if it fails to comply with the international community.”
Sharon himself said last month: “Ultimately, I don’t think there will be any alternative but to bring [Iran] to the U.N. Security Council and to take diplomatic and economic steps as pressure to stop this [nuclear effort].”
At the same time, there has been a behind-the-scenes debate within the ranks of Israel’s military and top diplomatic circles about the possibility of striking Iran.
“Israel will not, I repeat, will not, allow Iran to go nuclear,” said a top IDF official who talked on condition his name be withheld. “Right now, we are giving diplomacy a try, but if it becomes clear that Iran is going nuclear and will not be deterred, even by sanctions, we will not sit by and do nothing. The question though is whether we act, or America acts.”
The official said Israel would prefer that the U.S. carry out any military action.
“It’s more acceptable diplomatically for America to act. We will take more heat. Also, the missions are difficult for us. It’s further, we have problems of refueling in the air. American controlled aircraft carriers are much closer, and the U.S. has a launching base [from Iraq.]”
Confirming a report in the London Sunday Times in July, the official said Israel could technically attack Iran: “Of course, we have the airplanes, including [long-range] F-151i [jets] that can do it.”
Uzi Arad, the former head of Mossad’s foreign intelligence, previously told WND if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran, operations would not be limited to the targeting of Tehran’s suspected nuclear sites.
“From a hypothetical point of view, one shouldn’t assume any attack would only target nuclear facilities. Other targets of significance to the Iranians could be attacked, including military bases, oil facilities and certain industrial facilities,” said Arad.
“The Iranians shouldn’t make the assumption that just because they hide a few nuclear sites they are safe. There are enough targets to exact a very heavy price on Tehran, so much so that it should render their entire nuclear exercise a losing proposition,” Arad said.
But the senior IDF official warned that Israel should only act if it can be assured of a near 100 percent success rate.
“If Iran is attacked, and the attack fails to get rid of the facilities, it will unite the Iranian street against us, and will make Iran even more determined to go nuclear. The results will be very bad.”
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