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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Israel Denies Reports it Has Plans for Strike on Iran Nuclear Facility

07 January 2007

Israel is denying a report in a British newspaper that the country has drawn up secret plans to target Iran's nuclear facilities with tactical nuclear weapons. Speculation has been rife about an Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran since the Iranian president threatened to destroy the Jewish state. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israel's Foreign Ministry denied a report in London's Sunday Times that said the Israeli air force is training for a tactical nuclear strike on uranium enrichment facilities in Iran. Quoting Israeli military sources, the paper said the secret plan involves using low-yield nuclear "bunker busters."

The report said Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 3,000-kilometer round-trip flight to Iranian targets.

But, in a brief statement, the Foreign Ministry said Israel prefers diplomacy, including full implementation of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

At the same time, Israel believes those sanctions are not strong enough. Israeli analyst Cameron Brown:

"They are very, very light sanctions, and very limited in scope. Sanctions that have been imposed are totally insufficient to convince the Iranians that the price is far too high to bear," Brown says.

Brown says what is needed is a series of sanctions ...

"...that are going to have to become much, much more comprehensive, and going to have to be much more penetrating, if they are going to have any chance of success at all," he says.

More than a year ago, the Iranian president threatened to wipe Israel off the map, and, since then, Israeli officials have said repeatedly that they cannot allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

The Israeli air force destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, but an attack on Iran is much more complicated. Iran's nuclear facilities are spread out and fortified deep underground in concrete. Therefore, some experts believe the only way Israel can destroy Iran's nuclear facilities is with tactical nuclear weapons.

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