In what could transform the whole West Asian region into decades of crisis and human suffering, Israel is reportedly planning to launch low-yield nuclear “bunker busters” to destroy Iran’s contentious nuclear sites at Ishafan, Natanz, and Arak. There is an increasing volume of circumstantial evidence pointing to Iran’s nuclear weapons program at Natanz with supporting work done at heavy water plant at Arak and enrichment at Ishafan.
Outing the plan, the British Sunday Times says that while the “bunker buster will be used against Natanz where a web of underground sites are shielded from external view, conventional weapons may be used against Arak and Ishafan. Israel has ruled-out pre-emptive strikes as US officials are also guarded at not committing to a military action. Fuelling suspicion, Tel Aviv has refused to comment on the Times article saying that not discussing its nuclear arsenal is part of its “ambiguity strategy” but has consistently maintained that it will allow Iran to acquire nuclear arms. There has been a lot of speculation that Tel Aviv may try to replay its 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq but many defense analysts say that Iran may be much larger for Israel to handle alone as it may unify Arab-street and regime opinion against it. However, the Times report said that if the US declined to support and if a conventional attack is not evaluated as satisfactory deterrent, Tel Aviv may consider a nuclear strike and eliminate the possibility of a second strike. However, the report said that Israel plans to focus more on using conventional laser-guided weapons to open “tunnels” so it can drop nuclear devices into those tunnels to minimize radioactive fallout. The Times report claims that Israeli pilots have been training by flying to Gibraltar to simulate a 2000 mile round-trip and three routes, including one over Turkey, have been identified.
Tehran make it clear that it will respond in kind and that the “invader will regret its act immediately.” Iran also accused Israel “that the Zionist regime is the main menace to global peace and the region” a line that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had used calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Some defense experts in Israel and Iran dismiss the report as “psychological warfare” and that Israel’s nuclear weapons have been focused more at second strike capability.
Last month, the UN Security Council had unanimously voted to slap diluted sanctions on Iran and to try to stop uranium enrichment. Tehran insists its plans are peaceful and says it will continue enrichment as per the rights given to it under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Some experts say that the plan may have been leaked to add pressure on Tehran to halt its enrichment.