Tue, Jan 09, 2007
But Conventional Strike Still A Possibility
Officials in Israel angrily denied a recent report in a British
newspaper, claiming the Mideast nation is planning a preemptive
nuclear strike against Iran.
The Daily Telegraph reported Monday that sources within the
Israeli prime ministers office and foreign and defense ministries,
as well as a retired intelligence expert flatly denied the report
that appeared in Sunday's London Times. The paper reported Israeli
officials were planning the nuclear attack to stop the government
of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Israel has stated before it's unlikely to ever use nuclear
weapons preemptively against Iran, although it has left the
possibility of a conventional strike on the table.
A preemptive nuclear strike would be a first for Israel -- but
such an attack using conventional weapons is not. Israel employed
such an attack in 1981 to destroy a nuclear reactor in Iraq, in a
mission dubbed Operation Opera. Bombs dropped from eight F-16s
knocked the reactor out -- and is widely believed to have thrown a
wrench in then-Dictator Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions.
Experts say a similar attack on Iran would be more complicated,
however. Unlike the attack on Iraq -- which had most of Saddam's
nuclear technology located within one facility -- Iran has spread
its nuclear program out over at least a dozen sites.
Military planners in Israel say a successful raid on one key
target, however, would delay Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons
-- and possibly bring Iran to the bargaining table.
And, with the continued hostility from the regime in Tehran...
it's an option Israel is seriously considering.
"I do not advocate a military, Israeli preemptive strike against
Iran. I am aware of all its possible repercussions," said Israeli
deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh last year. "I consider it very
much the last resort but sometimes the last resort is the only
Israeli intelligence reports state Iran is expected to be a
nuclear power no earlier than 2010. Iran's nuclear program has run
into problems enriching uranium.
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