Published June 12, 2010
In the week that the U.N. Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defense sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran. To ensure the Israeli bombers pass without hindrance, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defense systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defenses will return to full alert.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a U.S. defense source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [U.S.] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defense circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.