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israeli Air Force General: israel must be ready to strike Iran


2/22/2005 11:30:00 AM GMT


israeli military and government officials said Monday that israel must be prepared to carry out an air strike against Iran's nuclear program even though it does not expect a nuclear strike from Iran.


The israeli Air Force Major-General Eliezer Shkedi did not say whether israeli planned to attack suspected Iranian nuclear sites.


But when asked whether such an attack could be carried out he replied, "There is no doubt Iran is trying to reach WMD capability. They have long distance missiles that can reach israel and are interested in extending their range to 3000 km…If the government of israel will decide to act, we have to be ready. I must prepare for everything."


The US and israel have said that Iran plans to develop nuclear military weapons.


Last month the head of the Mossad said that within six months Iran would have that capability. Iran denies this and says its nuclear program is purely for providing electricity.


Despite its fears of Iranian acquisition of such weapons, israel does not believe that Iran will use them.


"We don't think there is (someone) who is going to press the button," said Harry Knei-Tal, the director of the israeli Foreign Ministry's Center for Diplomatic Research.


He further added that Iran was planning to acquire the weapons as a form of "insurance... so that the US won't attack it like it attacked Iraq."


Knei-Tal said countries possessing nuclear weapons do not use them, with the exception of the US, but rather, they use them as leverage.


What israel fears, he said, is that Iranian possession of nuclear weaponry will boost its regional clout.


"We are afraid that it will give Iran more leverage to empower its clients," he said.


The israeli government's authorization of the acquisition of bunker-buster bombs and long-range fighter-bombers has fed speculation that israel might use force against Iran if international diplomacy or the threat of sanctions do not stop it from producing nuclear weapons.


When asked if there was such a plan, Shkedi replied, "You know that for obvious reasons I won't say even a word."


"We must deal with all the alternatives before [choosing] something very complicated," he said. "But we don't have a lot of time....

"I hope that there won't be a war, but you know, no one knows."



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