There is strong evidence to suggest that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, amid suspicions that it is exploiting its civil nuclear programme as a cover to produce atomic weapons
Iran insists that its programme is exclusively peaceful, citing the international treaty which gives it the right to use atomic energy to produce power. Yet there remains deep diplomatic suspicion of Iran in the
West, and growing alarm that it is exploiting its civil nuclear programme as a cover to produce atomic weapons.
Israel is the crux. Seen in the Arab world as America's outpost in the Middle East, Israel's very existence is regarded as a "stain" by Iran's Islamic regime which came to power in 1979.
Within two months of his election, Iran's current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad approvingly quoted Ayatollah Khomeini's call for Israel to be "removed from the pages of history".
Israel's former Prime Minister Shimon Peres called for the international community to shun Iran.
He said: "Iran is the only member of the United Nations that threatens publicly to destroy another member of the United Nations. It is a call for genocide."
Twenty five years ago, it did precisely that. The Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak was potentially capable of producing material for atomic weapons. In 1981, when the reactor was nearly complete, Prime Minister Begin of Israel felt that the threat required immediate action. He decided to go it alone and launch a raid to destroy the nuclear plant. Eight Israeli F-16 fighters bombed the Iraqi facility, in what was seen in Israel as a model of pre-emptive action.
Much depends on Israel's assessment of how far Iran has progressed at Natans, it's heavily guarded Uranium Enrichment Centre. The plant is based on 1970's technology, bought in the 80's on the nuclear black-market. It houses a line of centrifuges which spin uranium gas at 1,000 revolutions per second to make fuel for reactors. The more centrifuges in the line, the quicker the gas can become weapons-grade fuel.
In August, the Israeli press reported that the head of Israel's air-force was masterminding the Iran Front. Israel already has squadrons of F15 and F16 fighters armed with US supplied precision guided weapons at bases in the Negev desert. The Israeli defence industry is bolstered by an annual $2bn USD in subsidies from the the US to purchase American weapons.
If Iran is attacked and strikes back against western shipping in the Persian Gulf, the price of oil could be the first casualty. There is reason to believe there would be a concerted backlash from the Islamic world, of which Israel would certainly bear the brunt. Iran has powerful influence over the militants of Islamic jihad and Hammas, this could also mean an escalation in violence globally.
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