Israel is drawing up plans to attack Iran's nuclear facilities and is prepared to launch a strike without backing from the U.S., an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.
Officials in the Israeli Defense Ministry told The Jerusalem Post that while they prefer to act in consultation with the U.S., they are preparing plans that would allow them to act alone.
"It is always better to coordinate," a senior Defense Ministry official told the newspaper. "But we are also preparing options that do not include coordination."
It would be difficult, but not impossible, to launch a strike against Iran without permission from the U.S., as the American Air Force controls the Iraqi airspace Israel's jets would have to enter on a bombing mission.
"There are a wide range of risks one takes when embarking on such an operation," a senior Israeli official told the Post.
Iran, the world's fourth-largest crude oil producer, maintains that its uranium enrichment activities are aimed at making fuel for a network of planned electricity-generating nuclear power plants and not for developing weapons.
However Israel intelligence sources say Iran has sufficient nuclear material to make an atomic bomb.
Last month, amid mounting fears in Israel that the U.S. was doing nothing to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, Ehud Olmert, Israel's Prime Minister, warned President Bush the last chance of destroying Tehran’s nuclear bomb-making program was passing.
Iran dismisses the possibility of an Israeli strike.
"We think that regional and international developments and the complicated situation faced by Israel itself will not allow it to launch military strikes against other countries," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said, according to the Press TV Web site.
"Israel makes threats to promote its psychological and media warfare," Qashqavi said.
A report, published in September in Britain's Guardian newspaper, claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert requested a green light to attack Iran in May but was refused by Bush.