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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Israeli Air Force and Navy Trained to Attack Iran

The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the Israeli Air Force and Navy have trained to attack Iran:

WHEN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations for the first time last September, he had a mystical, out of body experience. On his return to Iran he said: “One of our group told me that when I started to say, ‘In the name of the God, the almighty and merciful’, he saw a light around me and I was placed inside this aura.”

Sheer flattery? Not according to the Iranian president. “I felt it myself,” he continued.

“I felt the atmosphere suddenly change and for those 27 or 28 minutes the leaders of the world did not blink . . . They were rapt. It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic republic.”

Ahmadinejad is said to believe in the return of the 12th imam, the Mahdi, who will restore peace and justice at the end of the world.

Middle Eastern commentators have noted the delicious irony of having two sparring, devout leaders — President George W Bush and Ahmadinejad — who believe in the second coming of a messiah on judgment day. But only the Iranian leader has vowed to “wipe” another nation, Israel, off the map, adding an apocalyptic air of menace to his country’s quest to acquire supposedly peaceful nuclear power.

Iran’s decision to break the UN seals at its nuclear enrichment plant in Natanz last week has placed the international community in a quandary.

Was it a shrewd piece of Iranian realpolitik designed to win approval at home and to spread fear abroad, or the actions of an Islamic fanatic and avowed Holocaust denier obsessed with destroying the Jewish state? And whatever the Iranian president’s motivation, can he be stopped?

Bush is expected to invite Ehud Olmert, the acting Israeli prime minister, to Washington next month for talks on Iran. The timing is sensitive. Israel goes to the polls in March and it would be bad form for the White House to give the successor to Ariel Sharon an apparent electoral boost. But the Iranian threat is considered so serious that Bush may not want to wait.

Before the massive stroke that left him in a coma, Sharon had declared: “Israel will not accept a nuclear weapon equipped Iran.” He had quietly ordered the Israeli Defence Forces to be ready to launch airstrikes against nuclear sites in the Islamic republic if necessary.

“The whole issue is now with the Americans,” said an Israeli defence source. “Once we get the green light, we’re ready.”


At the Hatzerim air base on the edge of the Negev desert, the elite 69 strategic F-15 I squadron is ready to attack. Months of preparations have been completed and the young pilots have finished training for the long-haul flights that will be necessary to reach Iran and back without refuelling.

The planes, costing £60m each, are equipped with secret state-of-the-art weaponry and precision bombs that have yet to be tested in battle.

Two submarines capable of launching cruise missiles are on standby: one hidden in the depths of the Persian Gulf, the other stationed in the Israeli port of Haifa. In an attack they will be used to receive high quality signal intelligence.

Israel’s elite special forces are also prepared for their role — flying into Iran by helicopter to sabotage the underground targets that cannot be bombed from the air.

That Israel has a plan of action surprises nobody, but it is a long way from pressing the start key. Its air force successfully bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 but, mindful of the lessons of that attack, the mullahs have dispersed their nuclear sites around Iran. There are thought to be at least 40 targets, some buried deep in the ground.

“What we now have is a lot of targets, which makes the operation much more difficult,” said Ze’ev Raz, the former pilot who led the attack on Osirak.

It is inconceivable that the Israelis could strike without the support of the Americans. “The reality is that it would have to be a sponsored mission because the Israelis would have to fly across Iraqi or Turkish air space,” said a senior British defence official.

Read it all.


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