Israeli military experts have concluded that a conventional strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities may fail, and have been forced to change their plans accordingly, The Sunday Times reported Sunday, quoting Western intelligence and defense sources.

“Israel’s plans have been constantly evolving in recent years according to the progress Iran is making,” The Sunday Times quoted a senior defense source as saying.

The Jerusalem Post could not confirm the veracity of this report.

According to The Sunday Times, Western defense experts discovered Iran’s Fordow nuclear site is hidden deeper underground than previously thought and therefore safe from conventional air strikes.

The Sunday Times report, quoting Western defense experts, added that due to the “upgraded” progress of Iranian enrichment, Israel has to change its tactics to prevent a loss of up to 20 percent of its planes in a conventional air strike.

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Defense experts claim Israel have two options, either deploy special forces on the ground, or use ballistic missiles with tactical nuclear warheads, the British paper reported.

The report follows a Channel 2 investigation that discovered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to raise its alert level ahead of a possible attack in 2010.

During a meeting of select senior ministers, Netanyahu allegedly ordered the IDF to raise its state of alert to “Pplus,” reserved for an imminent state of war, according to the report.

Then-IDF chief of staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan considered the order “illegal” and resisted it.

Among the arguments used most against a solo Israeli attack is an argument voiced by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said that an Israeli attack could not take out the Iranian program.

However, setting Iran’s nuclear plans back a few years to buy time for regime change or other unforeseen developments would be good in its own right, even if Israel cannot completely take out Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said recently, the Post learned.

Netanyahu, in private meetings, repeated a number of times that before Israel’s 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, the Mossad and Military Intelligence were opposed because they thought the best that could be done was to delay the program for a couple of years.

Barak – who has emerged as the most bellicose minister regarding Iran – told the Knesset, “I believe that it is inestimably more complicated, inestimably more dangerous, inestimably more complex, and inestimably more expensive in terms of human life and resources to deal with a nuclear Iran in the future.”

“There is a forum of nine [ministers], there is a security cabinet, and when a decision needs to be made [on an Iran strike] it will be taken by the Israeli government,” Barak added.

Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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