"No country has launched an attack using nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If there's indeed a strike on Iran, the last thing the forces would want to do is to use nuclear arms, as long as there are other means," Deputy Director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies Dr. Ephraim Kam told Ynet Sunday morning.
Kam's comments come in response to a Sunday Times report that Israel has formulated a plan to strike three Iranian nuclear facilities using tactical nuclear weapons.
According to Dr. Kam, the use of nuclear arms is an extreme step. "Even though this plan is realistic, I don't know if ultimately we'll see a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Even in case a decision is taken to act, it doesn't have to be done with nuclear weapons – that's a far-reaching move."
As to the targets presented in the British report, Dr. Kam says that "there are dozens of targets related to the Iranian nuclear program, including three of four that are considered highly critical. If these specific targets are hit this would constitute a significant blow to the nuclear program.
Addressing the overall intelligence picture possessed by international intelligence organizations, Dr. Kam said that "I do not read intelligence information, but logic dictates that there cannot be a full intelligence picture. It's highly unlikely that comprehensive and accurate intelligence information regarding Iran's nuclear project exists."
Former Air Force Commander Eitan Ben Eliyahu says that "the defense establishment is prepared for all possibilities, but there's a great distance between that and the concrete details in the Sunday Times."
Similarly to Dr. Kam, Ben Eliyahu also believes that the Iranian nuclear program features several central sites and that hitting them would stop or at least significantly disrupt Tehran's nuclear project.
"When talking about more realistic strikes or a more balanced military action we focus on those three sites – Natanz, Arak and Isfahan. If they are hit, the program would be annulled or significantly delayed.
Ben Eliyahu refused to address the British newspaper report directly, but argued that the defense system's duty is to prepare for the possibly of such strike.
"It would be an irresponsible, criminal neglect if a certain country presents a high-likelihood threat against Israel without us preparing for it. I don’t even want to imagine the possibility of facing a commission of inquiry in the future because we didn't prepare for the Iranian problem."
Regarding the claim in the British report that the Air Force engaged in long-range training in Gibraltar, Ben Eliyahu said that the Air Force has been preparing for long-range strikes for many years now:
"Ten years ago the Air Force already started to undertake this kind of training – not only against Iran but also Iraq and distant targets in northern Syria. One of the clear signs for it is that 15 years ago, in the framework of budgetary constraints, we made do with 25 long-range F-15A bombers instead of purchasing 50 other planes."