Israel Maintains Option To Strike Iran Nukes

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Tel Aviv----September 18......Israel's greatest threat today remains the missiles which are pointed at her from Iran. Missiles which will soon have a capability of striking Israel, her neighbors and much of Europe with nuclear payloads. Although Iran's extremist Islamic regime has been warned that either Israel or the US could use a preemptive strike against her at any moment, no different from when Israel took out the nukes in Iraq, Iran remains obsessed with continuing her aggressive and unchecked nuclear policy.

In 2002, a former Iraqi nuclear engineer told a Senate hearing Wednesday that the country could have nuclear weapons by 2005. Khidir Hamza, who defected from Iraq in 1994, and other experts on Iraq testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the start of two days of hearings on the Iraqi threat to the United States and possible U.S. responses -- including a military attack.

Citing German intelligence estimates, Hamza said Iraq had more than 10 tons of uranium and one ton of slightly enriched uranium. Hamza said that could give Iraq enough weapons-grade uranium to build three nuclear weapons within three years. In addition, Hamza said, Iraq was trying to extend the range of its missiles in order to reach Israel. This was one of the key elements for the US led war against Iraq. It was never about oil. The Iraqis struck Israel and US, Saudi bases with Scud missiles during the first Gulf War.

In 1981, Israel attacked a Baghdad nuclear reactor. Israel combat jets bombed a French-built nuclear plant near Iraq's capital, saying they believed it was designed to make nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. It was the world's first air strike against a nuclear plant.

With remarkable precision, an undisclosed number of F-15 bombers and F-16 fighters destroyed the Osirak reactor 18 miles south of Baghdad, on the orders of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The Israel Defense Forces stated that all the Israeli planes returned safely. The 70-megawatt uranium-powered reactor was near completion but had not been stocked with nuclear fuel so there was no danger of a leak, according to sources in the French atomic industry. The Israeli Government explained its reasons for the attack in a statement saying: "The atomic bombs which that reactor was capable of producing whether from enriched uranium or from plutonium, would be of the Hiroshima size. Thus a mortal danger to the people of Israel progressively arose." It acted because it believed the reactor would be completed shortly - either at the beginning of July or the beginning of September 1981.

The Israelis, at the time criticised the French and Italians for supplying Iraq with nuclear materials and plegded to defend their territory at all costs. The statement said: "We again call upon them to desist from this horrifying, inhuman deed. Under no circumstances will we allow an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our people." The attack took place on a Sunday, they said, to prevent harming the French workers at the site who would have taken the day off. There were no reported casualties. The Osirak reactor is part of a complex that includes a second, smaller reactor - also French-built - and a Soviet-made test reactor already in use. Iraq denies the reactor was destined to produce nuclear weapons.

A similar strike against Iran is said to be more than ready, with Israel and the US awaiting the right time and the right place.
Israel is prepared to take out Hizbullah based Iranian offensive missiles already sitting on the Lebanese and Syrian border.

Last month, for the first time, Hizbullah test-fired an Iranian medium-range rocket near the Lebanese border into Israel. Lebanese sources said Hizbullah tested the Fajr-3 rocket on Aug. 25. The sources said three Fajr-3s were launched about six kilometers north of the Israeli-Lebanese border. This was the first time Hizbullah fired a Fajr-3 rocket from Lebanon. The sources said Hizbullah was provided with the Fajr-3 in 2001, but the rocket remained under the supervision of Iranian military personnel.

One of the 240 mm rockets landed in Israel and the other two fell inside Lebanon. Nobody was reported injured, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said the Fajr-3 marked an extended range version of the Soviet-origin Katyusha. They said Hizbullah received training to operate the Fajr-3 by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Fajr-3 has a range of 43 kilometers and contains a 45-kilogram warhead. The rocket can strike the northern suburbs of Haifa when fired from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The Beirut-based Daily Star reported that the Fajr-3 rockets were launched from Wadi Salouqi, east of the village of Majdal Silm, where Hizbullah maintains a military outpost. The newspaper said two of the rockets landed in Lebanon between Houla and Meiss Al Jabal. Hizbullah was said to have deployed up to 15,000 missiles and rockets in southern Lebanon. The lion's share of the weapons was said to consist of 107 mm Katyusha rockets, with a range of eight kilometers. The Fajr-3 was said to be more than five meters in length and with a weight of more than 400 kilograms. Hizbullah was also believed to possess the Fajr-5, a 330 mm rocket with a range of 70 kilometers.

Lebanese sources said the Fajr-3s flew only six kilometers and fell three kilometers from each other. They said this could have marked a failure of the rocket launch. "Because of their bulk, the three [Fajr-3] rockets fired on Thursday would either have been driven to Wadi Salouqi and launched from the back of a specially adapted truck or fired from a permanent artillery position," defense analyst Nicholas Blanford wrote in the Daily Star. "Rogue Palestinians, or their hired hands, may be able to infiltrate the border zone and 'shoot and scoot' with a couple of 107 millimeter rockets from time to time, but launching Fajr-3s is out of their league."

The US recently shared highly classified intelligence with India to prove Tehran's alleged efforts to develop a missile capable of developing a nuclear warhead. The decision to share the intelligence with India and China "is a measure of resistance the US is meeting as it pushes, along with the Europeans, for Iran's nuclear activities to be referred to the UN Security Council", the Wall Street Journal said. Even as Iran resumed some sensitive nuclear activities last month and ended negotiations with the Europeans, the US and its allies face a challenge persuading China, Russia "and other key nations that the situation is grave enough for international reprisals.

As Iran test fires missiles into Israel, Iran's president proclaimed to the United Nations his country's "inalienable right" to nuclear energy and offered foreign countries and companies a role in his nation's uranium enrichment program to prove Tehran is not producing nuclear weapons.

In a fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected a renewed offer from the European Union, backed by the United States, to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and other incentives.

He claimed Iran continues to abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and accused some "powerful states" - an apparent reference to the United States and some Europeans - of engaging in "nuclear apartheid" by discriminating against access by NPT members to material, equipment and peaceful nuclear technology.

The European Union's three biggest powers began drafting a resolution today urging the United Nations nuclear watchdog to report Tehran to the Security Council for possible sanctions, an EU diplomat said. "The drafting of a resolution sending Iran to the Security Council has begun," the diplomat from one of the three EU countries Britain, France and Germany, known as the EU3, told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "Tonight the [EU3] political directors will meet to discuss the key elements of the resolution." Advertisement Seeking to deflect criticism of his country's nuclear program, the Iranian president on Saturday called for a UN probe into how Israel acquired the nuclear weapons it has long been assumed it possesses.

France's Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy welcomed Ahmadinejad's rejection of nuclear weapons and adherence to the NPT but reiterated that Tehran should not have a nuclear fuel cycle. "We don't see what the involvement of third countries will contribute to establish confidence," he said.

A senior U.S. State Department official called it "a very aggressive speech" that appeared to go beyond European "red lines."

A British Foreign Office spokesman called the speech "unhelpful." Both spoke on condition of anonymity. Ahmadinejad said Iran's religious principles prohibit the country from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He implicitly accused the Europeans and Americans of "misrepresenting" Iran's desire for civilian nuclear energy "as the pursuit of nuclear weapons." "This is nothing more than a pure propaganda ploy," he said. Ahmadinejad rejected European and American claims that Iran doesn't need to enrich uranium because it can obtain it from other countries. He insisted repeatedly that Iran would not be dependent on anyone else for its energy needs, and said "the peaceful use of nuclear energy without a fuel cycle is an empty proposition."

The United States and the Europeans have threatened to refer the Tehran nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions, if Iran doesn't stop enriching uranium. Washington has led efforts to line up support at Monday's board meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, for a referral to the council. But Rice suggested earlier this week that Washington might accept a delay, a recognition that veto-wielding council members Russia and China oppose any sanctions against Iran.

Taking direct aim at the United States, Ahmadinejad accused "those who have actually used nuclear weapons, continue to produce, stockpile and extensively test such weapons" of using uranium-depleted munitions and arming Israel with weapons of mass destruction. Instead of occupying itself with Iran, he said, a new General Assembly committee should investigate how Israel acquired weapons of mass destruction and propose measures to achieve total disarmament and a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

To reassure the international community of Iran's peaceful intentions, Ahmadinejad said his government is prepared to take "far-reaching" steps beyond the requirements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to ease other nations' fears of its intentions. The IAEA has already installed cameras to monitor Iran's nuclear activities, he said.

As a further "confidence building measure and in order to provide the greatest degree of transparency the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment programs in Iran," he said. "We will work with public and private companies in the context of Iranian and agency laws," Ahmadinejad said at a news conference afterward. He noted that U.S. President George W. Bush said recently that he approves of Iran having a peaceful nuclear program. "This is a step forward," he said, "but this means that others are to produce the fuel and sell it to us to use and for us to be always dependent on others -- this is outside the NPT and this is not acceptable to my nation."

Momentum for Security Council action grew after Tehran last month rejected incentives offered by Britain, France and Germany -- negotiating on behalf of the EU -- and resumed uranium conversion. The Europeans say Tehran broke its word by unilaterally restarting that activity while still discussing ways to reduce international suspicions about its nuclear agenda.

Ahmadinejad said Iran has made clear its peaceful intentions and is cooperating with the IAEA. "So when they threaten us this means they have no rationale, no logic or backup and we are not going to cave in to the excessive demands of certain powers," the Iranian leader told reporters. "We believe we should not give up to bullying in international relations," he said. "Iran is presenting in good faith its proposal for constructive interaction and a just dialogue," Ahmadinejad said. "However, if some try to impose their will on the Iranian people through resort to a language of force and threat with Iran, we will reconsider our entire approach to the nuclear issue," he warned.

The AP contributed to this report.

Israel News Agency

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