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IAF pilots have completed their mission training and fighter jets have been prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran, the British Sunday Times reported.
The article reported that "the elite 69 strategic F-15 I squadron" had been equipped with weapons that will be tested in combat for the first time, and that two missile submarines were on standby: one in the Persian Gulf and the second in Haifa Bay.
The Times also said that special IDF forces would be helicoptered into Iran to take out targets that could not be destroyed in an air strike.
Iran's nuclear facilities, according to the newspaper report, are widely dispersed at some 40 underground sites throughout Iran, which would make any attack by Israel - or any other nation - exponentially more difficult that Israel's successful attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.
Col. [res] Ze'ev Raz, the former IAF pilot who led the Osirak mission, was quoted by the Times as saying, "What we now have is a lot of targets, which makes the operation much more difficult."
Raz believes an aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities is possible. There are many things that the IAF has done over the past few years that the public is not aware of, and it has made many important advances in mid-air refueling. Israel can strike the Iranian nuclear program, Raz said on Israel's Channel 1 TV's Politika program last week.
Former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Uzi Dayan said last week that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, then so would terror organizations, like Hizbullah. "Israel needs to be ready to act on a military option," Dayan said. "Without getting into details, Israel is capable of doing these things."
When Dayan was head of the National Security Agency, he advised the government not to allow a situation in which Israel, and the world now finds itself, with a radical regime in Tehran on the verge of attaining nuclear weapons. Dayan laid much of the blame on the United States, which allowed this to happen. "The military option does exist, but only if the international community works together. The government that arises in Israel after the elections will have to deal with this issue," he said.
Shabtai Shoval, a former operative in the Israeli intelligence community, who wrote a book that Iran will reach nuclear weapons capability by 2009, says that covert action, for example by the Mossad, is the most interesting option, but would still not stop Tehran's push for nuclear weapons.
Dr. Reuven Pedatzur, a senior lecturer at the Strategic Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, believes Israel would be making a "disastrous strategic error" if it embarked on a full-scale attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. "The military option is not relevant, we simply don't have the right amount of intelligence and information; many of the targets are buried deep under ground.
Only if the Americans decide to do it, then that option is possible," Pedatzur said last week. Pedatzur added that the day Iran gets a nuclear weapon, Israel will have no choice but to abandon its policy of nuclear ambiguity.
Amir Mizroch contributed to this report.