CAIRO, (IslamOnline.net) – Israel could launch a massive strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities in autumn, creating an explosive situation in the region with a possible fierce response from Tehran, Arab diplomats have expected according to a leading Arabic-language newspaper.
“Exploiting the November US presidential elections and the European concerns, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could order a strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, similar to the ones Israelis executed in 1981 against Iraq’s nuclear weapons program”, the diplomats were quoted by the London-based newspaper Al Hayat on Wednesday, August 4.
Iran’s continued development of its nuclear program, Israeli plans to block it and the US-European decision not to allow the Islamic Republic to join the nuclear club “would bring in a coming explosive autumn to the Middle East,” the sources added.
The revelation came two days after The Sunday Times quoted Israeli officials as saying that Israeli Air Force has completed military preparations for a “preemptive” strike at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility and will attack if Russia supplies Tehran with rods for enriching uranium.
The rods, currently stored at a Russian port, are expected to be delivered late next year after a dispute over financial terms is resolved, the British paper reported.
Military sources had said the raid would be carried out by long-range F-15I jets, overflying Turkey, with simultaneous operations by commandos on the ground.
As Israeli officials have said they will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran warned of a disastrous retaliation that will “wipe Israel off the face of earth, in the words of the public relations head of the Revolutionary Guards, Commander Seyed Masood Jazayeri on July 26.
Al Hayat, a London-based respectable newspaper, said such a retaliation “could swing the decision-making balance in the hardliners’ favor”.
The daily quoted experts as saying that Iran has two fields for response to an Israeli attack: Iraq and southern Lebanon.
Tehran, experts expected, could move Iraqi Shiite groups to launch attacks against US occupation forces, already facing a hellish situation amid a bubbling cauldron of chaos and anarchy in the war-scarred country. They can also provide these groups with human and logistic support.
The Islamic Republic could also use Southern Lebanon, controlled by the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah which can not stand neutral regarding an Israeli attack on Iran.
However, experts said it will be hard for the resistance group to open a large-scale military showdown with Israel for “imbalance of power and fears this could spill over to a Syrian-Israeli confrontation”.
The Hizbullah fighters have forced Israel to end 22 years of occupation of southern Lebanon in May, 2000. But Israeli army still seize the strategic Shebaa Farms there.
Israel’s chief of military intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, reportedly told the Cabinet on Sunday, August 1, that Iran has supplied hundreds of Iranian-made missiles to Hizbullah, which can hit all of northern Israel and territory as far south as Tel Aviv, in addition to several dozen missiles that can reach the southern city of Beersheva.
Britain’s Sunday Times this week quoted Israeli sources as saying that Israel is worried that a preemptive strike against Iran could provoke “a ferocious response,” including attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets abroad, as well as Lebanese-based rocket attacks on northern Israel.
The Arab diplomats said the United States, facing a hard brewing time in Iraq, seeks to escalate international pressures on Iran without use of force, which Washington fears could flare up the Iraq situation in consequence.
It is none of US President George W. Bush’s interests to push American forces into a confrontation with Iran, the diplomats said.
“Bush is in the midst of presidential elections, in which he seeks to dissipate fears of voters seeking to hold him into account for deciding to go to war against the Iraqi regime on basis of misleading or unreliable intelligence,” said the diplomats.
They also expressed relief over European efforts to defuse tension over Iran’s nuclear program by encouraging Tehran to be ” flexible and transparent to avoid international isolation or a military action”.
“France, Britain and Germany still believe diplomatic efforts have not been exhausted yet, and channels of international laws should be first adopted away from military option,” the diplomats added.
US diplomats have been reportedly working with European allies to bring the Iranian problem to the United Nations Security Council in hopes of imposing economic sanctions.
A report issued earlier this month by the Council on Foreign Relations asserted that the US should not let Israel act unilaterally against Iran.
The report, authored by former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Central Intelligence Agency chief Robert Gates, said: “Given the potential threat that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could pose, the full range of alternatives – including military options – for confronting Tehran must be examined. Yet the use of military force would be extremely problematic, given the dispersal of Iran’s program at sites throughout the country and their proximity to urban centers.”
Iran insists it only wants atomic energy. And so far, its nuclear program is in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Israel, India and Pakistan are the only countries with nuclear facilities that have not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which was initiated in 1968 to stop the spread of nuclear weapons through inspections and sanctions.
It is widely known that U.S. intelligence agencies routinely omit Israel from semiannual reports to Congress identifying countries developing weapons of mass destruction to protect the country from any economic or military sanctions.
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