April 18, 2009
Israel is reportedly preparing for a massive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites “within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.”
[efoods]According to a report by The Times, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is taking every step to ready itself for “what would be a risky raid” on Iranian nuclear facilities.
“Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours,” one senior Israeli defense official told The Times.
“They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words,” the source added.
To ready itself for the “massive aerial assault” on Iran Israel has moved to equip itself with three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.
Israel’s Home Front Command also announced plans earlier to mobilize the Israeli army for the largest military exercise in its history on June 2.
The nationwide drill is aimed at preparing the public for the retaliation that Israel could face.
The report cites Iran’s enrichment facility in Natanz, its heavy water reactor in Arak, and the country’s Fuel Manufacturing Plant (FMP) in the central province of Isfahan as prime Israeli targets.
The distance from Israel to at least one of the cited locations is more than 870 miles, for which Israel prepared for by conducting a training exercise last year.
A June report by The New York Times revealed that Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier in the month that appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing of Iranian nuclear installations.
More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters, helicopters and refueling tankers participated in the maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece.
“We would not make the threat [against Iran] without the force to back it,” The Times quoted one intelligence official as saying. “There has been a recent move, a number of on-the-ground preparations, that indicate Israel’s willingness to act.”
The source, however, admitted that it was unlikely that Israel would carry out an attack without receiving “at least tacit approval” from the new US administration.
The Times report comes as earlier on Thursday a Washington think tank cautioned against an Israeli mission to take out Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it is unlikely to be hailed a success.
“A military strike by Israel against Iranian Nuclear Facilities is possible and the optimum route would be along the Syrian-Turkish border then over a small portion of Iraq then into Iran, and back the same route,” reads the report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).
“The number of aircraft required, refueling along the way and getting to the targets without being detected or intercepted would be complex and high risk and would lack any assurances that the overall mission will have a high success rate,” warned the assessment.
An Israeli strike on Iran is widely believed to require the green light from the Pentagon.
The US Air Force should grant permission to Israeli bombers to fly across Iraq.
Ephraim Kam, the deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies, played down the prospect of any such permission by President Barack Obama’s administration.
“The American defense establishment is unsure that the operation will be successful,” he told The Times.
The new US administration has struck a more “reconciliatory tone” in dealing with Iran.
The US Vice President Joe Biden said earlier that he did not believe that Netanyahu would take the risk of attacking Iran, adding, “He would be ill advised to do that.”