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Israel ready for unprovoked air strike on Iran

IAF chief on Iran: We must be prepared

Israel must be prepared to carry out an air strike against Iran's nuclear program, although it does not expect a nuclear strike from Iran, Israeli military and government officials said Monday.

In a meeting with reporters, OC Israel Air Force Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi would not say if Israel plans to attack Iran's nuclear sites, Army Radio reported.

But when asked if Israel could carry out such an attack, "There is no doubt Iran is trying to reach WMD capability. They have long distance missiles that can reach Israel and are interested in extending their range to 3000 km. There is no doubt that the matter is a concern not only for Israel but a threat that must also worry the US and Europe If the government of Israel will decide to act, we have to be ready. I must prepare for everything."

Threats have been bouncing back and forth between Iran and its enemies, the US and Israel, since the Shi'ite state announced it was further developing its national program for nuclear energy.

The US and Israel have said that Iran plans to develop nuclear military weapons. Last month the head of the Mossad said that within six months Iran would have that capability. Iran denies this and says its nuclear program is purely for providing electricity.

Despite its fears of Iranian acquisition of such weapons, Israel does not believe that Iran will use them.

"We don't think there is some crazy Iranian who is going to press the button," said Harry Knei-Tal, the director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Center for Diplomatic Research.

Speaking to reporters at the Foreign Ministry, he said Iran was planning to acquire the weapons as a form of "insurance... so that the US won't attack it like it attacked Iraq."

Knei-Tal said countries possessing nuclear weapons do not use them, with the exception of the US, but rather, they use them as leverage.

What Israel fears, he said, is that Iranian possession of nuclear weaponry will boost its regional clout.

"We are afraid that it will give Iran more leverage to empower its clients," he said, referring to Hizbullah.

The Israeli government's authorization of the acquisition of bunker-buster bombs and long-range fighter-bombers has fed speculation that Israel might use force against Iran if international diplomacy or the threat of sanctions do not stop it from producing nuclear weapons.

When asked if there was such a plan, Shkedi replied, "You know that for obvious reasons I won't say even a word."

"We must deal with all the alternatives before [choosing] something very complicated," he said. "But we don't have a lot of time....

"I hope that there won't be a war, but you know, no one knows."

Israeli and foreign analysts have said that neither Israel nor the US would be able to destroy Iran's nuclear installations with a single air strike as Israel did with the Iraqi reactor at Osirak in 1981 because they are scattered or hidden and intelligence is weak.

In a speech in Brussels on Monday, US President George W. Bush said the United States was working with European allies Britain, France and Germany on a diplomatic solution to end Iran's nuclear program.

Bush did not rule out using military force in Iran, but addressing widespread concerns in Europe that Iran was the next US target after Iraq, he said, "Iran is... different from Iraq. We're in the early stages of diplomacy."


Jerusalem Post, "IAF chief on Iran: We must be prepared", 22 February 2005.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 22 February 2005.

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Tags: Israel, air strike, Iran, air strikes, Iranian, nuclear, facilities, bombed, IAF, bombing, raid, Iran, Israel Air Force, bombs, attacks, , conspiracy theories.

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