Saturday, November 10, 2007


Israel training intensively for nuclear strike on Iranian nuclear plants

By Reuven Koret November 10, 2007

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Iranian enrichment plant
With no alternative but to fight fire with fire, the Israel Air Force is training for a tactical nuclear strike on Iranian nuclear production facilities. As hope fades for a diplomatic solution to Iran's development of enriched uranium for production of weapons with the primary purpose of destroying Israel, the IAF is practicing for a mission to destroy key Iranian facilities, at least one with low-yield nuclear munitions, the Times of London reported.

Citing "several Israeli sources," the Times said that two IAF squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using a combination of precision laser bombs and low-yield nuclear "bunker-busters". The Times report was supplemented by one from Fox News.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb, the Times said.

Under the plans, the report said, conventional laser-guided bombs would open shafts into the targets. Then the "mini-nukes" would then be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

"As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished," said one of the sources.

Israeli intelligence recently announced that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons by 2009. Meir Dagan, head of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, told the Knesset, Israel's parliament, also believes that the Iranians will have a complete nuclear device by 2009.

Conventional strikes, IDF commanders believe, are insufficient to destroy the deeply buried enrichment facilities, which are reportedly built beneath at least 70 feet of concrete and rock and surrounded by dozens of Iranian anti-aircraft batteries.

Israel has identified three prime targets south of Tehran believed to be central to Iran's nuclear program, the Times reported:

Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges are being installed for uranium enrichment;

A uranium conversion facility near Isfahan where, according to a statement by an Iranian vice-president last week, 250 tons of gas for the enrichment process have been stored; because this is located near a city of 4.5 million people, Israeli may opt to use conventional munitions here.

A heavy water reactor at Arak, which may in future produce enough plutonium for a bomb.

Israeli officials believe that destroying all three sites would delay Iran's nuclear program for years and prevent the Jewish State from living in fear of a "second Holocaust," a mounting threat since Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been declaring that "Israel must be wiped off the map" and promoting the desirability of "a world without Israel."

Dr. Ephraim Sneh, the former deputy Israeli defense minister, said last month: "The time is approaching when Israel and the international community will have to decide whether to take military action against Iran." But he lamented that "At the end of the day it is always down to the Jews to deal with the problem."

But the United States is believed to be backing away from military action in Iran, and the new US defense secretary, Robert Gates, has described a strike against Iranian targets as a "last resort", leading Israelis to believe that it will be left to the IAF to strike. Israeli sources do not believe that the US is likely to give explicit permission for Israel to use tactical nukes.

The Times, citing Israeli sources, said Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets.

The report said that the air force squadrons are based at Hatzerim in the Negev desert and Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, under the personal supervision of Major General Eliezer Shkedy, commander of the Israeli Air Force, training to use Israel's arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons on the mission.

The strike is expected to release nuclear material from the plants, rendering the facilities uninhabitable and crippling their reconstruction.

The Israelis believe that Iran's expected retaliation would be constrained by fear of an Israeli second strike.

The leak of a possible nuclear option by Israel may be intentional, US analysts have said. "In the cold war, we made it clear to the Russians that it was a virtual certainty that nukes would fly and fly early," said an American defense source. "Israel may be adopting the same tactics: 'You produce a weapon; you die'."

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