Israel denies negotiating for US permission to fly over Iraq for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities

Israeli Dep. Defense minister Moshe Sneh attributed the Daily Telegraph report to sources “unwilling to accept responsibility for diplomatic inaction on Iran’s weapons program. They are rolling it into Israel’s court,” he said.
The British paper’s Tel Aviv correspondent Con Coughlin quoted a senior Israeli defense official as saying that negotiations are underway for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an air corridor in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Tehran developing nuclear weapons.
The reporter takes this as evidence that Israel’s military establishment “is moving on to a war footing with preparations now well under way for air strikes against Tehran if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the crisis.”
According to the Telegraph, for surgical air strikes, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. “If we don’t sort these issues out now we could have a situation where American and Israeli war planes start shooting at each other,” said the Israel defense official, who asked not to be named.
debkafile‘s sources suggest some of these frank revelations may have been meant to mislead the opposition. A surgical strike by Israeli war planes transiting Iraq is not the only plan up Israel’s sleeve for taking out Iran’s nuclear installations.
The paper reports that a special strategic committee has been set up to deal with the Iran threat chaired by prime minister Ehud Olmert. On the military side, Air Force commander Eliezer Shkedi is in charge of the Iran Command. While “the urgency that is driving the Israeli government’s activity” is demonstrated by the postponed retirement of Mossad head Meir Dagan until the end of 2008.
Regarding the Arrow anti-missile defense system, successfully test-fired this month, the London paper quotes an Israeli military officer as explaining:” There is no point in shooting down a nuclear missile once it’s over Israel – the devastation would be just the same. The idea is to take it out long before it hits Israel.”
But then widespread devastation would potentially be caused Iraq or Jordan.
The Israeli officer remarked: “No one has done much thinking about what might happen if you exploded a nuclear weapon the upper atmosphere.”
(debkafile: This statement is wide of the mark. For years, the armies of the worlds have been researching this question.)
The difficulties facing an Israeli attack, according to the Telegraph, include the scattering of Iran’s nuclear resources around the country and the interment of the Natanz uranium enrichment complex in bomb-proof bunkers that would require “high-precision, bunker-busting bombs to influence serious damage.”
Another is the recently arrived Russian-made Tor M1 anti-aircraft missile, whose delivery debkafile revealed on November 25 2006 and whose ability to intercept aircraft and missiles, including cruise missiles, was reported at the time.
Finally, the Telegraph’s Tel Aviv correspondent discusses the controversy between Israel and Western powers over how long before Iran produces enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead. Israel’s estimate is two years hence in 2009, while the West reckons on five or even 10 years.
The Israeli security official told the London paper that Israeli hopes the problem can be solved diplomatically, but added: “No one is going to take the Iranian threat seriously until the State of Israel can demonstrate to the outside world that we have the ability to deal with this menace on our own.”

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