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Israel to focus on key Iran nuclear targets in any strike.

Byline: Reuters

JERUSALEM: Should Israel attack Iranian nuclear facilities, it would probably carry out precision strikes while making every effort not to hit the oil sector or other civilian sites.

Past Israeli operations, such as the 1981 bombing of Iraq s Osirak atomic reactor and a similar sortie against Syria in 2007, suggest a strategy of one-off pinpoint raids, due both to military limitations and a desire to avoid wider war.

A simulation at the Brookings Institution in Washington last December theorized that Israel, intent on halting what the West suspects is Tehran s covert quest for atomic arms, would launch a sneak attack against half a dozen nuclear facilities in Iran.

Israel might then argue the mission "had created a terrific opportunity for the West to pressure Iran, weaken it, and possibly even undermine the regime," Brookings expert Kenneth Pollack wrote in a summary of the wargame, though he saw little chance of the Obama administration looking kindly on this tack.

Israel s advanced F-15 and F-16 warplanes have the range to bomb western Iran and strike further inland with air-to-air refueling and using stealth technology to pass through the air space of intermediate hostile Arab nations.

Israel could also launch Jericho ballistic missiles with conventional warheads, according to a 2009 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Israel s three German-built Dolphin submarines are believed to be capable of carrying conventional and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. They would have to transit through Egypt s Suez Canal -- as one did last year -- to reach the Gulf.

Special forces might be deployed to spot targets and possibly launch sabotage attacks. Israel has also been developing "cyber warfare" capabilities and could use this together with other activities by Mossad secret service agents on the ground, security sources say.

Israel would not want to risk drawing in Iranian allies like Hezbollah, Hamas or Syria. Israel also does not want to damage ties with neutral Arab powers or the United States. And finally - speaking in favor of a short, sharp assault - its conventional forces are designed for brief border wars, not prolonged action.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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