London Times: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran


Richard Moore

Original source URL:,,2089-2535310,00.html

The Sunday Times
January 07, 2007

Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi, New York and Sarah Baxter, Washington

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran¹s uranium enrichment facilities
with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility 
using low-yield nuclear ³bunker-busters², according to several Israeli military 

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

Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open ³tunnels² into the 
targets. ³Mini-nukes² would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, 
exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

³As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the
Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,² said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part 
by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad¹s assessment that Iran is on the 
verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two 

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough
to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have 
been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the 
nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was 
ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military 
action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to 
put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften 
up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Some analysts warned that Iranian retaliation for such a strike could range from
disruption of oil supplies to the West to terrorist attacks against Jewish 
targets around the world.

Israel has identified three prime targets south of Tehran which are believed to 
be involved in Iran¹s nuclear programme:

Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges are being installed for uranium 

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 in tunnels

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 Iran¹s 
nuclear programme indefinitely and prevent them from having to live in fear of a
³second Holocaust².

The Israeli government has warned repeatedly that it will never allow nuclear 
weapons to be made in Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared 
that ³Israel must be wiped off the map².

Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, has described military action 
against Iran as a ³last resort², leading Israeli officials to conclude that it 
will be left to them to strike.

Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 
2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets. Three possible routes have been 
mapped out, including one over Turkey.

Air force squadrons based at Hatzerim in the Negev desert and Tel Nof, south of 
Tel Aviv, have trained to use Israel¹s tactical nuclear weapons on the mission. 
The preparations have been overseen by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, commander 
of the Israeli air force.

Sources close to the Pentagon said the United States was highly unlikely to give
approval for tactical nuclear weapons to be used. One source said Israel would 
have to seek approval ³after the event², as it did when it crippled Iraq¹s 
nuclear reactor at Osirak with airstrikes in 1981.

Scientists have calculated that although contamination from the bunker-busters 
could be limited, tons of radioactive uranium compounds would be released.

The Israelis believe that Iran¹s retaliation would be constrained by fear of a 
second strike if it were to launch its Shehab-3 ballistic missiles at Israel.

However, American experts warned of repercussions, including widespread protests
that could destabilise parts of the Islamic world friendly to the West.

Colonel Sam Gardiner, a Pentagon adviser, said Iran could try to close the 
Strait of Hormuz, the route for 20% of the world¹s oil.

Some sources in Washington said they doubted if Israel would have the nerve to 
attack Iran. However, Dr Ephraim Sneh, the deputy Israeli defence minister, said
last month: ³The time is approaching when Israel and the international community
will have to decide whether to take military action against Iran.²

Copyright 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Escaping the Matrix website
cyberjournal website  
subscribe cyberjournal list     mailto:•••@••.•••
Posting archives      
  cyberjournal forum  
  Achieving real democracy
  for readers of ETM  
  Community Empowerment
  Blogger made easy