Sources at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem denied Sunday morning the reports
that Israel is preparing to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
"There is no such thing. This has never been planned," they said.
According to the Sunday Times report, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has instructed the IDF to prepare for the possibility of a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities by the end of March 2006.
The British newspaper said that the order was relayed to the army after intelligence officials warned the government that Iran has already activated uranium enrichment facilities hidden at civilian locations.
State officials have warned in the past few weeks of the Iranian nuclear danger, fearing that Iran will reach the point of no return in the development of nuclear weapons.
Such nuclear warheads, which could be produced within a number of years once the point of no return is reached, may be placed on the Iranian Shihab 3 missiles. The range of these missiles is believed to be about 1,500 kilometers (about 2,400 miles).
The Iranians, on their part, are not shy when referring to their need to develop nuclear capabilities. Alongside their remarks about their desire to gain uranium enrichment capabilities, they reported last week that they intend on building 20 nuclear plants.
'Wipe Israel off the map'
Although the Iranians claimed that the plants will be built for peace purposes, the West has no doubt that some of the plants may be used for developing nuclear bombs that will threaten the entire West.
Israel does not want to be at the forefront of the battle against the development of Iranian nuclear capabilities, but rather to stand in one front together with all the western countries.
Israel is concerned about Iran’s nuclear capabilities due to Iran's relative proximity and in light of Iranian President Ahmed Ahmadinejad's harsh remarks against Israel.
A few weeks ago, Ahmadinejad called on the world to "wipe Israel off the map." Last week he said that the Zionist state should be moved to German and Austrian provinces due to Europe's debts to Israel following the Second World War.
Since the mid 1990's Israel has been warning against the Iranian threat. Consequently, Israel equipped itself with long-range bombers, the F15I, which can reach and hit Iranian targets.
In addition, according to foreign publications, the Dolphin submarines purchased by Israel from Germany have the ability to launch long-range cruise missiles, thus creating a balance of terror between Israel and Iran, which is considered to be the key strategic threat on Israel in this generation.
Foreign publications also mentioned Israel's high intelligence capabilities, based on satellites launched to space in order to collect intelligence in Iran.
Shalom to raise Iranian issue
Meanwhile, Israel has been exerting political efforts in the past few weeks in a bid to unite the western countries in the fight against Iran's nuclear capability.
On the one hand, Israel has demanded that that the issue be discussed in the U.N. Security Council and that the U.N. impose sanctions on Tehran.
On the other hand, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has instructed Israel's ambassadors in the world to bring the issue to the public's attention in the countries where they serve as ambassadors.
Shalom intends on raising the subject in meetings with foreign representatives, particularly from European Union states, who are serving as ambassadors in Israel.