Report: Israel has plans to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities

By News Agencies


Tevet 17, 5767

Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said.

Citing what it said were several Israel Defense Forces sources, the paper said two Israel Air Force squadrons had been training to blow up an enrichment plant in Natanz using low-yield nuclear "bunker busters".

Two other sites, a heavy water plant at Arak and a uranium conversion plant at Isfahan, would be targeted with conventional bombs, the Sunday Times said.

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously last month to slap sanctions on Iran to try to stop uranium enrichment that Western powers fear could lead to making bombs. Tehran insists its plans are peaceful and says it will continue enrichment.

Israel has refused to rule out pre-emptive military action against Iran along the lines of its 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq, though many analysts believe Iran's nuclear facilities are too much for Israel to take on alone.

The newspaper said the Israeli plan envisaged conventional laser-guided bombs opening "tunnels" into the targets. Nuclear warheads would then be used fired into the plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce radioactive fallout.

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

However it also quoted sources as saying a nuclear strike would only be used if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene. Disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, the paper added.

Washington has said military force remains an option while insisting that its priority is to reach a diplomatic solution.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Israel, widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has said it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia, France urge Iran to comply with nuclear demands
Meanwhile, the Saudi and French foreign ministers called on Iran to accept international demands on halting its uranium enrichment program, saying Saturday that the Mideast should be free of weapons of mass destruction.

Visiting French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and his Saudi
counterpart stressed that diplomacy must be the way to solve Iran's ongoing standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

"We discussed the nuclear dossier in the region and its hazards," Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said in a joint press conference.

"We agreed on the necessity that the region should be void of weapons of mass destruction and that achieving this target will be by dialogue and diplomacy," he said.

"Israel should not be excluded from the international efforts and procedures," he added, reflecting regional demands that Israel also be scrutinized for its nuclear program.

The foreign ministers' call came as Iran recently stated it would continue to defy international sanctions aimed at rolling back its uranium enrichment program.

"Iran has to respond to international demands regarding this issue, and should have a positive stance," Douste-Blazy was quoted as saying by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States and Europe fear Iran is trying to develop an atomic bomb.

Arab states near Iran are concerned nuclear accidents could endanger their citizens or environment, and fear a possible military confrontation between the Islamic regime and the United States or with Israel. Gulf nations hosting U.S. military bases - Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar - also fear Iran could retaliate against them.

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