Sunday am update: Israel denies the Sunday Times report that it’s planning a nuclear attack on Iran:
A British newspaper reported Sunday that Israel has drafted plans to strike as many as three targets in Iran with low-yield nuclear weapons, aiming to halt Tehran’s uranium enrichment program. The Israeli Foreign Ministry denied the report.
Link via Lucianne.
Sunday am update II: Captain Ed has a good post on this Sunday Times report:
Of course they would deny this, even if true; it would be an attack on a sovereign nation and just the plans could present Iran with a casus belli. Does anyone see Ehud Olmert as the man most likely to launch such a war?
More likely this is a training exercise to determine the feasibility of such an attack. Perhaps the difficulties could be overcome, but they seem near insurmountable. Any attack by air will show up on the radars of several nations very unfriendly to Israel well before the bombers cross over into Iranian airspace. Those nations would consider the overflight a hostile act in itself, and would likely respond militarily even before Israeli pilots could lock onto their targets. The low-percentage nature of the plan’s final stage would convince most that the entire mission would best remain a curious academic exercise and not a serious strategy for handling Iranian nuclear ambitions.
Drudge has the headline in red.
Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons, the SUNDAY TIMES of London is planning to report, British media sources tell DRUDGE… MORE…
No links yet, but I’m going to nose around a bit and see what else I can find.
Update: Here’s the Sunday Times of London report:
ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s 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.
There is a disclaimer:
However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.
Update II: Possibly both Israel and the US? From The Spectator in the UK:
Within the next 12 months, the Americans or the Israelis, possibly both, are likely to launch military strikes aimed at crippling Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Those strikes may come sooner rather than later. And they will probably be nuclear.
There has been talk of Israel using tactical nukes against Iran before, but nothing concrete from what I understand.
Newly elected House Majority Leader Democrat Steny Hoyer says an attack on Iran is a possibility:
“I’ve not ruled that out,” he said, but added, “It’s not an option we want to consider until we know there is no other option.”
Allahpundit‘s response to Hoyer’s hardline: Until Israel actually acts, in which case he’ll repudiate his support, declare that he was misled, and do a photo op with Cindy Sheehan.
A few weeks ago, PM Olmert slipped and acknowledged that Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons. I questioned whether that slip was truly accidental. I doubt that these reports of a “likely” nuclear strike in the next twelve months coming on the heels of newly passed UN sanctions, against Iran, at which Ahmadinejad is already thumbing its nose, are accidental either.
Not everyone inside Iran is enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad’s nuclear baby because of all the trouble that’s about to come their way:
Iranian reformist parliamentarians on Saturday blamed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government for failing to prevent United Nations sanctions.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on December 23 to impose sanctions on Iran’s trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology in an attempt to stop uranium enrichment work that could produce material that could be used in bombs.
Iran says it wants nuclear power to generate electricity.
Reformist former President Mohammad Khatami suspended Iran’s nuclear work for more than two years in an effort to build confidence and avoid confrontation with the West, but resumed uranium enrichment in February last year.
“The only way to pass the crisis is to build confidence … but a holding Holocaust conference and financing the Hamas government creates mistrust and tension,” Noureddin Pirmoazzen, the spokesman of parliament’s reformist faction, told Reuters.
Update III: Jay at Stop the ACLU isn’t buying what Drudge is selling. And I don’t blame his skepticism.
John Little of Blogs of War is also questioning the accuracy of the report:
A conventional attack would seem much more likely. I’m starting to think 2007 may be there year. But nuclear? That event would be so disruptive worldwide that I just can’t imagine it being used. I’m inclined to view this as both a warning for Iran and an attempt to scare Washington into taking more direct action on the issue.
[T]he Times has been wrong before with “secret Israeli plan” stories.
Update IV: Ralph Peters opines in today’s New York Post on the possible reasons why President Bush placed Admiral William Fallon in charge of central command of the Middle East:
WORD that Adm. William Fallon will move laterally from our Pacific Command to take charge of Central Command – responsible for the Middle East – while two ground wars rage in the region baffled the media.
Why put a swabbie in charge of grunt operations?
There’s a one-word answer: Iran.
ASSIGNING a Navy avia tor and combat veteran to oversee our military operations in the Persian Gulf makes perfect sense when seen as a preparatory step for striking Iran’s nuclear-weapons facilities – if that becomes necessary.
While the Air Force would deliver the heaviest tonnage of ordnance in a campaign to frustrate Tehran’s quest for nukes, the toughest strategic missions would fall to our Navy. Iran would seek to retaliate asymmetrically by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz – and trying to hit oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates.
Only the U.S. Navy – hopefully, with Royal Navy and Aussie vessels underway beside us – could keep the oil flowing to a thirsty world.
Others following this: