‘Israel planning strike on Iran from Azerbaijan’

'Foreign Policy' claims Azerbaijan granted Israel access to air bases along Iran’s northern border for potential use in strike.

March 30, 2012 01:28
2 minute read.
IAF A-4, F-16 jets at Hatzerim [file]

IAF A-4, F-16 jets at Hatzerim_370. (photo credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Leaks regarding Israeli plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities continued Thursday, raising suspicion within the political and defense establishment that the Obama administration was intentionally trying to undermine potential military action.

The first report appeared in Bloomberg and, citing a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, said that Iran would be able to recover from a military strike against its centrifuge fabrication plants within six months.

Quoting current and former US officials, the CRS analysts, who regularly prepare papers for Congress, claimed that the centrifuge workshops were widely dispersed and hidden throughout Iran.

Due to the dispersion of the facilities, it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons,” the report claimed.

The CRS researchers quoted former CIA director Michael Hayden as saying in January “that neither the US nor Israel knows the location of all key Iranian nuclear-related facilities.”

In another report, Foreign Policy claimed that Azerbaijan had granted Israel access to air bases along Iran’s northern border for potential use in a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” the report quoted an unnamed US official as saying, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

Even if Israel doesn’t use the fields for a direct air strike on Iran, Azerbaijan could still prove useful for Jerusalem’s interests in the region. The bases could be used as a jumping point for IDF search-and- rescue units, according to a US intelligence official the report quoted.

Israeli officials raised the possibility that the reports were being published to try and derail possible plans to attack Iran.

Ties between Jerusalem and Baku have been on the rise in recent years. Foreign media have reported that Israel Aerospace Industries sold $1.6 billion worth of military platforms to an Asian country, later identified as Azerbaijan.

The deal was said to include a Green Pine radar, advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and various missile systems.

A report last month in The Times of London said that Azerbaijan was teeming with Mossad agents working to collect intelligence on the Islamic Republic of Iran, quoting an unnamed agent as saying that Baku was “ground zero for intelligence work.”

Earlier this month, Azerbaijani security forces arrested 22 people, including one Iranian citizen, for allegedly plotting to attack Israeli targets across the country. Baku has tied the plot to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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