British submarine
Photo: AP

Report: Britain stepping up plans for Iran strike

The Guardian reports Tehran may finish hiding nuclear facilities in bunkers by end of 2012, which may force US President Obama to reach decision about military strike prior to elections. Minister Barak currently visiting London

Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency plans for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern over Tehran's nuclear program, The Guardian reported Wednesday. Iran will finish hiding all the material it needs to continue a covert weapons program inside fortified bunkers within a year.


British defense officials told the newspaper that the "the window (of opportunity) is closing and the UK needs to do some sensible forward planning" by the 2012 US presidential elections.


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Defense Minister Ehud Barak is currently visiting London and has met Britain's National Security adviser. Barak is slated to meet other senior officials in the UK's defense establishment as part of his visit. Meanwhile, Britain's Chief of Defense Staff General Sir David Richards visited Israel this week as the guest of IDF chief Benny Gantz.  


המתקן הגרעיני בקום. בונקרים חסינים (צילום: AP)

Nuclear facility at Qom (Photo: AP)


According to The Guardian's report, the UK's Defense Ministry believes Washington may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if the US presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.


Britain is reportedly examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles.


The paper said various UK defense officials recently noted that Iran was once again becoming the focus of diplomatic concern after the revolution in Libya.


US President Barack Obama has no wish to embark on a new and provocative military venture before next November's US election, they said.


But they warned the calculus could change because of mounting anxiety over intelligence gathered by western agencies, and the more belligerent posture that Iran appears to have been taking.


One senior official said Tehran has proved "surprisingly resilient" in the face of sanctions, and sophisticated attempts by the West to cripple its nuclear enrichment program had been less successful than first thought.


"Iran appeared to be newly aggressive – and we are not quite sure why", he said.


Netanyahu seeks cabinet support

Israel is also making preparations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to form a cabinet majority for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.


Israeli state officials told Britian's Sky News network that Barak and Foreign Minister Lieberman support a preemptive strike but that the majority of ministers oppose military action fearing a regional flare-up.


The IAEA is slated to issue a report about Iran's nuclear program next week. Atom expert Dr. Ephraim Asculai told Ynet that the report may provide proof that Tehran is not only manufacturing enriched uranium but also experimenting on warheads and other nuclear components.


He noted that the significance of the report lies in its very publication in light of Russian and Chinese opposition. This may bolster western nations who seek tougher sanctions on Iran.


Attila Somfalvi and Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 11.02.11, 20:16
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