By Matthew Kalman
ISRAEL will bomb Iran rather than let the ayatollahs get their hands on nuclear weapons, it was claimed yesterday.
The Israeli cabinet held a special session three weeks ago where it approved plans to stop Iran from going nuclear – at any price, according to newspaper reports.
'Preparations for an Israeli military option intended to stop Iran's nuclear program are under way,' reported Israel's daily Maariv newspaper.
'If the ayatollahs' regime does not fall in the next year, if the Americans do not strike militarily, and if the international sanctions do not break the Iranian nuclear plan, Israel will have to act forcefully.'
The United States has called for tougher international sanctions to try to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
But Israeli leaders fear a nuclear Iran would seek to destroy the Jewish state and they believe time is running out for the diplomatic option.
At a recent military parade in Tehran, banners adorning six Shahab- 3 missiles proudly displayed Iran's hatred toward Israel and the U.S., reading: ' Israel must be wiped off the map' and 'We will crush America under our feet.'
Ben Caspit, the Maariv diplomatic editor, said the U. S. was opposed to the Israeli plan and could withhold the permits and special codes needed to overfly Iraq and attack Iran.
Yesterday, Iran's deputy foreign minister, Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, said his country was operating 4,000 centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant – enough to churn out weapons-grade plutonium for dozens of nuclear warheads.
Also yesterday, the London Arabic daily Al- Quds Al- Arabi reported that Iran had supplied its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon with advanced rocket systems capable of hitting anywhere in Israel.
The report said Hezbollah would respond to any Israeli attack on Iran with a massive rocket barrage against Israeli cities.