In response to a report on Sunday that Israel planned to attack Teheran's nuclear sites, Iran declared that any attack would provoke a reaction and that "anyone who attacks will regret their actions very quickly." According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Ali Husseini, the report published in the London-based Sunday Times proved that Israel was in possession of nuclear weapons.
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"This step even comes after the Israeli prime minister's admission, which revealed the fact that the Israeli regime has nuclear weapons in its possession," Husseini said, referring to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's slip-of-the-tongue last month, when he hinted on German television that Israel was among the world's nuclear-equipped nations.
"Now this will convince the international community that the main threat to the world, and to our region in particular, is the Zionist regime," Husseini added.
The Prime Minister's Office, however, said it would not respond to the Times claim. "We don't respond to publications in the Sunday Times," said Miri Eisin, Olmert's spokeswoman.
Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman also declined to comment on the report, which claimed that Israel had drawn up plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
But Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev denied the report and said, "The focus of the Israeli activity today is to give full support to diplomatic actions and the expeditious and full implementation of Security Council resolution 1737. If diplomacy succeeds, the problem can be solved peaceably."
Earlier, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On urged Olmert to refute the report.
"It is impossible that Israel would plan to get caught up in another adventure after [our] experience in Lebanon, and act as the world's sheriff," Israel Radio quoted Gal-On as saying. She added that diplomacy was the only way to solve the problem.
According to the Times report, military sources had reportedly disclosed to the British newspaper details of two IAF squadrons that have been training to blow up an enrichment plant in Natanz using low-yield nuclear "bunker busters."
Jerusalem officials refused to comment on the report later Sunday morning, Army Radio said.
A heavy water plant at Arak and a uranium conversion plant at Isfahan would also be targeted, using conventional bombs, according to the Times.
Reportedly, the plan envisaged conventional laser-guided bombs opening "tunnels" into the targets. Nuclear warheads would then be fired into the plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce radioactive fallout.
IAF pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 2,000 mile round-trip to the Iranian targets, the Times said, adding that three possible routes to Iran had been mapped out, including one over Turkey.
The Times suggested that Israel may be trying to scare Iran or to cajole the US into taking stronger action against Teheran's nuclear program.
However, the report went on to speculate that Israel may strike at Iran's nuclear facilities and pressure the Americans to agree with the move after the event.
Israeli analysts denounced the report on Sunday as entirely false.
"I refuse to believe that anyone here would consider using nuclear weapons against Iran," Reuven Pedatzur, a prominent defense analyst, told the AP in Israel on Sunday. "It is possible that this was a leak done on purpose, as deterrence, to say: 'Someone better hold us back, before we do something crazy.'"
Ephraim Kam, a strategic expert at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Strategic Studies and formerly a senior army intelligence officer also dismissed the report.
"No reliable source would ever speak about this, certainly not to the Sunday Times," Kam said.
In March 2005, the Sunday Times reported that Israel had drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy failed to halt the Iranian nuclear program.
The newspaper then claimed that the inner cabinet of former prime minister Ariel Sharon had given "initial authorization" for an attack at a private meeting on his ranch in the Negev.