November 3, 2011
Israel yesterday test-fired a ballistic missile – believed to be long-range and capable of reaching Iran – amid a public debate triggered by reports that the country’s Prime Minister is mustering support for a strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.
Though said by officials to have been long planned, the missile launch from the Palmachim air base near Tel Aviv fed speculation about Israel’s intentions after strong signs that there has been serious discussion within its Cabinet about the merits of a military option.
Defence officials gave few details of the launch but the Defence Minister Ehud Barak said it was “an impressive technological achievement.” He added: “The successful experiment proves again that the engineers, technicians and staff of the Israeli defence industries are of the highest level.”
The test coincided with persistent, if unconfirmed, media reports, which began anew last Friday with a front page column by Israel’s most prominent commentator Nahum Barnea, that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Barak are seeking to build ministerial support for a military strike designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear programme.