Israel is preparing for Iran to become a nuclear power and has accepted that it may happen within a year, according to a London Times report presented on Monday by AFP.
The newspaper reported that the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) think-tank prepared scenarios for the day after an Iranian nuclear weapons test. The scenarios were prepared at the request of former Israeli ambassadors, intelligence officials and ex-military chiefs.
According to the report, INSS specialists, including a former head of Israel’s National Security Council and two former members of the prime minister’s office, conducted the simulation study in Tel Aviv last week.
If Iran does test a nuclear weapon, INSS predicts a profound shift in the Middle East power balance. Extracts of the report on the simulation seen by the London Times show that experts believe the U.S. would propose a defense pact with Israel, but would urge it not to retaliate to the Iranian test.
Russia would seek an alliance with the U.S. to prevent nuclear proliferation in the region, although Saudi Arabia would likely pursue its own nuclear program, the report concluded.
“The simulation showed that Iran will not forgo nuclear weapons, but will attempt to use them to reach an agreement with the major powers that will improve its position,” a passage of the report published by the Times said.
“The simulation showed that (the Israeli military option), or the threat of using it, would also be relevant following an Iranian nuclear test,” added the report. The Times reported that conclusions from the simulation have been sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has begun enriching uranium at a heavily fortified underground site.
The nuclear watchdog said that medium-level enrichment had begun at the Fordo plant, in northern Iran. Since the facility is underground, heavily fortified and protected by the armed forces, it is a very difficult target for air strikes.
A spokeswoman for the IAEA said the agency could “confirm that Iran has started the production of uranium enriched up to 20 percent.”
The agency’s confirmation comes a day after officials in the Islamic Republic said the underground uranium enrichment plant will go into operation “in the near future.”