Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - March 13, 2005 - The Times of London reports Israel is Taking aim at Iran
Posted on 03/13/2005 4:35:10 AM PST by DoctorZIn
Top News Story
Focus: Taking aim at Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi and Tony Allen-Mills report
Israeli troops are training for an assault on Irans nuclear facilities. Will it happen and what would be the fallout?
Israels finest soldiers had been flying for several hours before the assault helicopters reached their target the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, in southern Iran. Most of the men from the Shaldag battalion were dressed in the uniform of the Iranian Pasdaran militia, while others wore Israeli army kit and carried the standard issue M4A1 carbine rifle fitted with Trijicon Reflex sights.
As the helicopters dropped low over the desert, the commandos adjusted their night vision equipment. At the back of one craft two large dogs from the Oketz unit strained against tightly held leashes. Close by were packs of explosives that would be strapped to them.
As the choppers landed several miles from the target, the soldiers spilt out and ran to lorries hidden by Mossad agents. The Oketz men strapped the bombs to the dogs.
As the lorries approached a dimly lit installation minutes later, snipers picked off seven guards at its entrance. The trucks thundered through the gates and headed for the gas centrifuges used to generate weapons-grade uranium.
The soldiers fanned out, shooting and planting explosives. The dogs were sent down narrow tunnels leading deep into the bowels of the complex.
For about 10 minutes nothing happened. The lorries had cleared the plant when a series of explosions was heard underground. Moments later, Israeli F-15 jets screamed in, dropping bunker-busting bombs.
The attack proceeded flawlessly, with only one reservation. This was not the real Natanz plant, just a mock-up in Israels Negev desert.
For the past few months, elite Israeli commandos have been training for an assault on Irans nuclear facilities. One more full rehearsal has been scheduled for next month, said senior Israeli intelligence sources last week.
The news that Israel is planning unilateral action to end what it considers an imminent Iranian nuclear threat comes as American and European diplomats are announcing new initiatives for negotiation with Tehran.
Although publicly committed to the diplomatic effort, Israeli officials say the point of no return will come later this year when they calculate Iran will be in a position to start processing uranium. They say Ariel Sharons inner cabinet has decided to act alone if the impasse has not been broken.
If all efforts to persuade Iran to drop its plans to produce nuclear weapons should fail, the US administration will authorise Israel to attack, said one Israeli security source.
So in the tradition of Israeli military adventurism the honour roll includes the destruction of Iraqs Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and the raid on Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976 Jerusalem is preparing for another daring strike.
It is a move which, if carried out, might scupper President George W Bushs Middle East peace plans and unleash the full force of Irans military might against Israel and Jewish interests around the globe.
So what is really going on amid the barren emptiness of the Negev desert? Is Israel really girding for battle? And how should America, Britain and the rest of the world react?
IRANS nuclear future is under construction on a spit of land that juts into the Gulf 150 miles east of Kuwait. The Bushehr nuclear site is the home to a nearly completed Russian-built plant that will be capable of producing a quarter of a ton of weapons- grade plutonium a year enough, say nuclear experts, to build 30 atomic bombs.
Tehran has insisted that Bushehr is intended solely for civilian power-generating purposes but few western experts believe that. They point to a string of other facilities around the country some buried deep underground in hardened bunkers which they say adds up to a clandestine weapons programme.
Some of these locations are known to the International Atomic Energy Agency and to western intelligence. They include a uranium mining facility at Saghand; a plant at nearby Ardekan for preparing yellowcake, the first step to nuclear fuel; and the Natanz enrichment facility that is the chief focus of Israeli concern.
To these can be added up to a dozen more sites whose exact function remains uncertain. You do not have to be an expert to realise that almost all those activities have little practical value for any kind of civil programme, said Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Almost all of them have applications to a nuclear weapons programme.
The prospect that Irans fundamentalist rulers might one day get their hands on any kind of nuclear bomb is anathema to Israel.
The preservation of a nuclear monopoly in the Middle East is the cornerstone of Israels security policy, says John Pike, a weapons specialist with Globalsecurity.org. Iran is behind most of Israels torments.
US military officials describe Israel as a one bomb country small enough to be destroyed by a single nuclear strike. As the domed reactor of Bushehr has risen steadily, Israeli officials have warned they will not tolerate atomic ayatollahs pointing nuclear missiles at Jerusalem.
There are significant differences among nuclear experts over how long it might take Tehran to build its first useable bomb, but most agree the Iranians are within a year of completing facilities that would begin weapons production. The risk of delaying a military strike, they say, is that once the Bushehr reactors start up, their destruction might cause an environmental catastrophe on a par with the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.
Israel is not alone in its fear of a nuclear Iran. US officials believe Irans main purpose in obtaining atomic capability is to confirm its status as a regional power and to deter the Americans from what the Iranians regard as adventurism.
Equally worrying for the West is the threat that nuclear materials might fall into the hands of Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups.
For much of the past four years, the United States and Europe have been divided over how to tackle the threat. Britain, France and Germany have led a diplomatic drive to persuade Iran to abandon its weapons programmes. Last year Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, but the so-called EU-3 group has made little headway in persuading Tehran to renounce its weapons ambitions.
However, to the chagrin of Americas neoconservatives, the diplomatic process is continuing. The announcement last week of new, US-backed incentives for Iran including civilian aircraft parts and support for Iranian membership of the World Trade Organisation is designed to break the impasse by peaceful means. If Iran fails to respond, the issue is expected to go to the UN security council later this year where it is likely to become deadlocked, freeing Israel to take unilateral action.
ISRAEL was not always so worried about Irans nuclear programme. In the mid-1970s, Israeli scientists arrived at the Amirabad research centre in Tehran to help with laser enrichment of uranium. But that was another age, when the Shah sat on the Peacock throne and Israeli El Al flights were welcomed twice a week to Tehran.
Today the Israelis are forced to look from the outside in. Officials said that for more than a year, Israeli special forces have been operating a listening post close to the Iranian border in Iraqi Kurdistan.
It is also said to have deployed intelligence-gathering submarines in the Gulf and sent special forces on spying missions. The Israeli Ofek-6 spy satellite previously used to monitor Saddam Husseins Iraq has also been moved to an Iranian orbit.
Unlike Osirak, the Israelis are said this time to be co-ordinating with American forces. They have no choice. Any air-launched attack on Iran would send Israeli warplanes over Turkey and close to Iraqi airspace, currently controlled by the Pentagon. Both Washington and Jerusalem know that whoever carries out any attack, the world will see it as a joint conspiracy.
It is equally clear that a number of hurdles stand in the way. Jerusalem must prepare for retaliatory assaults, either by Iranian-supplied missiles based in Lebanon or by Iranian backed terrorists.
Above all, they must strike the right target. Both British and American intelligence officials have confirmed that the whereabouts of all key Iranian facilities remains unknown.
Yes, of course you can do a bit of bombing, said a senior Washington official. But are you sure you can hit everything? No. And when youve done it, whats the reaction? The Iranians close ranks, theres international uproar and theyve still got their weapons programme. What did you achieve by this? Not the least of the reasons Bush has become so accommodating to European diplomacy is that the Pentagon has told him it cant be sure it has located the entire Iranian nuclear structure. There isnt a military option at the moment, the Washington official added. By leaking details of its attack plans, Israel may be trying to put pressure on Bush amid concerns that the US is going soft on Iran in the interests of transatlantic harmony. Some analysts believe that if Washington concludes an Israeli attack is inevitable, US forces will be obliged to act in the hope of saving the Middle East peace process.
While the Israelis are less concerned about the broader peace process, many recognise that an attack only makes sense if it removes the Iranian threat.
On a recent Friday, a party was held on a remote Israeli kibbutz. Disco music was playing and a couple of dozen athletic young men were quaffing beers. No women were present.
The men were F-15 pilots from Israeli elite 69 squadron. They were enjoying a break before yet another rehearsal of an attack on Natanz. We are ready, said their commander, Brigadier General Shkedi.
It may be a difficult, even foolhardy mission. But Israel has shown before that it will not be deterred if it concludes that its existence is threatened.
- Iranian negotiators complained the US incentives are "way short of our expectations."
- Iranian negotiators claim ending their nuclear enrichment programs isn't "even on table." Rather, they say EU3 negotiators are trying to get "objective guarantees"
- The LA Times is reporting that the EU3 are do not have a deadline for the negotiations, quoting EU3 negotiators as saying "so who is in a hurry?."
- Condi says if the Iranians want to demonstrate that they are willing to live up to their obligations "they should do so earlier rather than later."
- And finally, there was another earthquake in south eastern Iran a few hours ago.
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Well, let's say they take some of these facilities out for argument sake. The whole world will publicly condemn them and privately thank God someone had the cojones to do it. It's a crying shame that so much of the world is enabling Iran to become a nuclear threat. Russia supplies the hardware, and France, Germany, and Britain provide the soft power that is actually a way of running diplomatic interference to protect a clique of unwanted and despised theocratic thugs. In the meantime, Iran's discredited theocrats move forward and the NYT leaks what may be a Top Secret plan to the whole world. Is this a new low for the NYT? Nope. They've still got Walter Duranty and his Pulitzer Prize for his reports on the Ukraine.
I'd read the article earlier and thought it was from the NYT and not the TIMES OF LONDON.
It would be heart warming to see this on several thousand billboards throughout the country.
Best comment I heard on this subject in a previous thread was, "if Israel is planning anything you can bet the Times UK wouldn't know anything about it".
Sady most folks don't have a clue who Duranty was.
The best way to handle Iran is to let the Iranian youth revolt as they watch the Middle East evolve into freedom all around them. The Mullahs cannot deny them forever, they Iranian youth are educated and love western culture. They are religious but not extremists. With all that has happened of late, I wouldn't be surprised if it was imminent.
Nor do they know about the man-made (i.e., Stalin made) famine in the Ukraine that killed maybe ten million people. Duranty, as I'm sure you know, praised the success of collective farming being implemented there while a famine worse than was experienced in Ireland raged. The NYT spread this filth and never has come clean on it. Instead, today the NYT spends its time trying to figure out how to sabotage the spread of freedom.
I had seen your post # 4 prior to posting and decided to post that anyway.
Intellectual dishonesty used against intellectual dishonesty?
Hmmmm ... I wonder what the sentence will be? Hardly a Pulitzer Prize. ;)
Duranty was the ultimate "useful idiot".
True, and not to make light of it, not many are as old as we. Err ... uh ... I mean I. ;)
Scroll down to Duranty's award in 1932. Note the Times "statement" link on his award.
The LA Times quoted an EU official as saying, ""There is a suspension of enrichment [by Iran] and there is the IAEA in Iran to verify the suspension, so who is in a hurry? The Iranians to get their carrots and to get rid of the IAEA," the official said. "But we should take the time which is needed to come into a comprehensive agreement.""
I sincerely hope this "official" isn't representative of the rest. Perhaps he was joking or trying a little psychology? Or maybe he had one too many glasses of wine?
He can't be THAT gullible and ignorant.
I particularly enjoyed the ...
... "The Times does not have the award in its possession."
Rescuing your nationals from terrorists with state support is "military adventurism"? Here I always thought the prime function of a nation's military was protection of it's civilian population. At least the militaries of free nations. In the others, the prime mission is protection of the rulers.
??? I guess these guys have a different map than the one I looked at on the CIA website. Only a flight to far northern Iran might require flying over Turkey. However the site in question, at Natanz, is in southern Iran, and the Iranian reactor is along the Persian Gulf Coast. Both locations would require fling over Iraq or Saudi Arabia.
Of course the Israelis could just launch some missiles from submarines in or near the Gulf.
Attack plans set in stone are not easily uncovered, especially by the press. (which more often than not have the details wrong). I think this is wishful thinking by some.
The ideals of Democracy & Liberty are moving through the Middle East at a "presumed" record pace, BUT, Not at the speed of a F-16 ............
Either way, NO Doubt- Change is Coming !!!!!!
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