ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Irans uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear bunker-busters, according to several Israeli military sources.
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 tunnels into the targets. Mini-nukes would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.
As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished, said one of the sources.
The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossads assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years…..
me 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: The time is approaching when Israel and the international community will have to decide whether to take military action against Iran.
U.S. defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran’s nuclear aims, although no strike appears imminent.
The Army and Marine Corps are under enormous strain from years of heavy ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran if President Bush decided to target nuclear sites or to retaliate for alleged Iranian meddling in neighboring Iraq.
Among the possible targets, in addition to nuclear installations like the centrifuge plant at Natanz: Iran’s ballistic missile sites, Republican Guard bases, and naval warfare assets that Tehran could use in a retaliatory closure of the Straits of Hormuz, a vital artery for the flow of Gulf oil.
The Navy has an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf area with about 60 fighters and other aircraft that likely would feature prominently in a bombing campaign. And a contingent of about 2,200 Marines are on a standard deployment to the Gulf region aboard ships led by the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship. Air Force fighters and bombers are available elsewhere in the Gulf area, including a variety of warplanes in Iraq and at a regional air operations center in Qatar.
But there has been no new buildup of U.S. firepower in the region. In fact there has been some shrinkage in recent months. After adding a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf early this year – a move that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said was designed to underscore U.S. long-term stakes in the region – the Navy has quietly returned to a one-carrier presence….
The possibility of U.S. military action raises many tough questions, beginning perhaps with the practical issue of whether the United States knows enough about Iran’s network of nuclear sites – declared sites as well as possible clandestine ones – to sufficiently set back or destroy their program.
Among other unknowns: Iran’s capacity to retaliate by unleashing terrorist strikes against U.S. targets.
Nonmilitary specialists who have studied Iran’s nuclear program are doubtful of U.S. military action.
"There is a nontrivial chance that there will be an attack, but it’s not likely," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of a nuclear strategy project at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy group.