Israel Plans to Attack Iran

A0489312.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Israel has reportedly sought US support for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities last spring.

The Guardian newspaper reported last week that when Israel’s then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, raised the idea during US President George W. Bush’s visit to Israel last May, Bush vetoed it.

The Guardian’s veteran Middle East commentator, Jonathan Steele, cited senior diplomatic personnel working for a European head of government who met Olmert some time after Bush’s visit.

According to the Guardian’s sources, the talks were so sensitive that they were held in private, with no note-takers in attendance. They said that Olmert took it (the refusal of a US green light) as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.

Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

Bush’s refusal to sanction an attack was apparently based on several factors. Firstly, the US was concerned that such an attack would provoke Iran to retaliate, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and contract personnel in Iraq, and Afghanistan and US shipping in the Persian Gulf. The Iraqi government has close ties with Tehran.

Secondly, it was unlikely that an Israeli air raid even with dozens of aircraft would succeed in knocking out Iran’s nuclear facilities, which are widely dispersed in fortified underground locations throughout the country.

Furthermore, the shortest route to Natanz, Iran’s uranium enrichment plant, is more than 700 miles from Israel and would entail flying over Iraq’s airspace, which is controlled by the US. So it would be impossible for Israel to launch such an attack without explicit US approval.

Intensified threats by Tel Aviv and Washington of military action against Iran contradict a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies which endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s nuclear plans and activities.

Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has also carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

Following the said reports by the US and international bodies, many world states have called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran unjustified, demanding that Iran’s case be normalized and returned from the UNSC to the IAEA.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.

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