Der Speigel: Israel preparing strike to take out Iranian
By Ellis Shuman
October 12, 2003
The German weekly Der Spiegel reported Saturday that the
Mossad has marked six Iranian nuclear facilities as targets for an Israeli Air
Force pre-emptive strike. An unnamed IAF pilot told the weekly that such a
mission would be "complex, but feasible." The Los Angeles Times
reported that Israel
has modified U.S.-made Harpoon cruise missiles so it can launch nuclear
warheads from submarines.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Mossad chief Meir Dagani to devote
"utmost efforts" to gather information about Iran's
growing nuclear capabilities, Maariv reported today. According to Maariv, Sharon
told associates that "Iran
is the greatest danger to Israel"
and that he was coordinating intelligence gathering efforts with the United
Last week, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told senior IDF commanders that Iran's
nuclear efforts constitute "the gravest danger to Israel's
existence in the future. This is because Iran
calls for Israel's
annihilation. We must do out our utmost, under U.S.
guidance, to delay or eliminate the prospect of the extremist regime [in Tehran]
securing weapons of this sort."
According to Der Spiegel, a special unit of the Mossad received an order two
months ago to prepare a detailed plan to destroy Iran's
nuclear sites. The Mossad believes Iran
has reached an advanced stage in its nuclear program and is capable of
producing enriched uranium, a vital ingredient of nuclear bombs. The report
said that three of Iran's
nuclear sites were totally unknown to the outside world.
The Mossad's plan is now ready and has been delivered to the Israeli Air Force,
which will carry out the strike, Der Spiegel said. The simultaneous air strike
on six Iranian nuclear facilities would be carried out by IAF F-16 fighter
jets. The paper quoted an unnamed IAF pilot who said the operation, which would
be far more complicated than Israel's strike at Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak
in 1981, would be "complex, but feasible."
"We think that next summer, if Iran is not stopped, it will reach
self-sufficiency and this is the point of no return. After this
self-capability, it will take them some two years to make a nuclear bomb,"
IDF OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) announced on Channel One
television in August.
The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued an ultimatum to Iran
that by October 31 it would have to open all of its nuclear facilities for IAEA
inspection. Media analysts suggested that the leak of the Der Spiegel report
was intended to pressure Iran into complying with the international agency.
Unnamed American officials were quoted by Army Radio as saying that the United
States had no plans to launch an attack against Iran at this stage, but it was
impossible to know what the "crazy" Israelis would do.
Nuclear missile capability on Israeli submarines
Meanwhile, U.S. and Israeli officials say Israel has modified U.S.-made Harpoon
cruise missiles so it can launch nuclear warheads from submarines, the Los
Angeles Times reported on Saturday.
"The previously undisclosed submarine capability bolsters Israel's
deterrence in the event that Iran develops nuclear weapons," the report
said. But, the newspaper added, "It also complicates efforts by the United
States and the United Nations to persuade Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear
The deployment of the modified Harpoon cruise missiles completes Israel's
nuclear program, the Los Angeles Times said. Israel has the capability of
launching nuclear missiles from the land, air and sea, the report claimed.
Israeli military spokesmen refused to comment on the report, in line with the
country's policy of refusing to say if it has nuclear weapons.
MK Ephraim Sneh (Labor) told Army Radio that publication of the reports harm
Israel, divert international attention from Iran's efforts to develop nuclear
capabilities, and are "incorrect." Sneh said, "Anyone who knows
the Harpoon missile realizes it could never carry a nuclear warhead."
"down to the last detail."