Sunday, June 29, 2008
Iran Aims Shahab-3B Missiles at Dimona
Hana Levi Julian
Iran has aimed its Shahab-3B ballistic missiles at the State of Israel, according to a report published Sunday in a British newspaper.
The Times of London reports that the missiles were moved on to launch pads and are reportedly focused on several targets in the Jewish State, among them the nuclear reactor in the Negev city of Dimona. The Shahab-3B can be armed with a variety of different types of explosives, including conventional high explosives and submunitions as well as chemical, biological, radiological dispersion and, potentially, nuclear warheads. The missile, an "enhanced" version of the Shahab rocket, is believed to have been produced in ranges of approximately 1,300-1,500 km and 2,000 km, according to Jane's Defence News, bring it well within range of Israel's cities.
The move came following a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israel Air Force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran's nuclear installations.
Defense sources quoted by the newspaper said the missiles were readied for a counterstrike should Israel attack Iran.
General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard which operates the missiles, threatened over the weekend that "Iran has many different ways to strike worldwide… and the important part of this is based on our missiles."
Israel has repeatedly warned that Iran is preparing a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, and has stated that it will not tolerate a threat to its existence.
Shabtai Shavit, the former director of Israel's international intelligence agency, the Mossad, said in an interview with the British Telegraph newspaper published Sunday that the window of opportunity to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is rapidly closing.
The intelligence chief estimated that the Islamic Republic would achieve its goal of developing such a weapon within "somewhere around a year."
He added that the sooner Israel made plans for that probability, the better off the Jewish State would be. "As an intelligence officer working with the worst-case scenario, I can tell you we should be prepared," he said. "We should do whatever necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on the public opinion side for the West, in case sanctions don't work. What's left is a military action."
Shavit said it would be preferable to have American support for a strike on Iran, if Israel is forced to fall back on that option, but predicted that US presidential elections might eliminate that possibility.
"If (Republican candidate John) McCain gets elected, he could really easily make a decision to go for it. If it's Obama: no. My prediction is that he won't go for it, at least not in his first term in the White House," said, Shavit.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed numerous times over the past two years that he intends to annihilate the State of Israel. He has referred to the Jewish State as a "malignant cancerous growth," which he has repeatedly said he intends to "wipe off the map."