Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.
The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 1,250 miles, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran’s nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.
The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel’s own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.
Major-General Mohammad Jafari, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, told a Tehran daily: “This country [Israel] is completely within the range of the Islamic Republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime – despite all its abilities – cannot confront it.”
An editorial in a government newspaper, Jomhouri Eslami, said: “Our response will hit right at their temple.”
The sabre-rattling coincided with a visit to Israel yesterday by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, for talks with his Israeli opposite number, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi. This intensified speculation that Israel was seeking US approval for a possible attack on Iran.
“Although the visit had been planned well in advance, we got the feeling he was coming to make sure we’ll obey the strict timetable agreed with the US,” said an Israeli defence source. He refused to elaborate.
President George Bush has approved the linking of Israel to a US infrared satellite detection system that could spot Shahab missile launches within seconds.
This should enable the Israeli air force to destroy such missiles in the booster stage. The system will also give the Israelis about 15 minutes to seek shelter before any warhead hits.
June 29, 2008
Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv
Source: The Times