|Israel expands war arsenal|
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Iranian leader condemned for Holocaust remarks
JERUSALEM - The AP and Reuters
Israel is expanding its military arsenal to deal with what it views as the greatest threat to its existence: a nuclear attack by Iran.
It has acquired dozens of warplanes with long-range fuel tanks to allow them to reach Iran and signed a deal with Germany for two submarines reportedly capable of firing nuclear missiles.
Though Israeli security officials say a strike against Iran is not on the horizon, senior Israeli politicians have begun openly discussing the possibility of a military option -- either alone or with other countries.
Such a mission would be far more complicated than the 1981 Israeli raid that destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor. It would require heavy precision bombs that can blast through underground bunkers, manned aircraft to bombard multiple targets and possibly ground commandos to make sure weapons materials are destroyed, experts say.
"It's not a target that you can find on the map, send two F15s and solve it," said Itamar Yaar, deputy head of Israel's National Security Council.
Both the United States and Israel refuse to say whether a strike plan is in the works.
Meanwhile, Germany, Russia and Switzerland joined the European Union on Friday in a chorus of condemnation of the Iranian president for suggesting the Holocaust might not have taken place and that Israel should be moved to Europe.
The remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a news conference in the Saudia Arabian city of Mecca on Thursday, follow his call in October for Israel to be "wiped off the map," which also sparked broad international criticism.
The German Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Iran's ambassador to protest, and ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told a news conference this was being done to show how seriously Berlin was taking the comments.
"When one summons an ambassador, then you signal the start of something in diplomacy, that there are grounds for serious discussion," Jaeger told reporters.
Iran's official news agency IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying of the Nazi Holocaust "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces..."