Israel Approves $1.5Bln Budget for Possible Strike Against Iran's Nuclear Facilities - Report
03:38 GMT 19.10.2021 (Updated: 19:46 GMT 17.10.2022)
© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitTwo Israeli air force F-15 release flares into the air during a graduation ceremony for new pilots in Hatzerim air force base near the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, Israel, Thursday, June 24, 2021.
© AP Photo / Ariel Schalit
The budget reportedly includes money for a variety of aircraft, intelligence-gathering drones, and specific munitions required for such an operation, which would need to target heavily guarded underground facilities.
Israel has approved a budget of about $1.5 billion (5 billion Israeli New Shekels (ILS)) to train the military for a possible strike against Iran's nuclear program, Israeli media reported on Monday.
The $1.5 billion budget reportedly includes over $930,000 (3 billion ILS) from the previous budget as well as more than $620,000 (2 billion ILS) from the government's next budget, which is expected to be adopted in November.
The report follows a recent statement by the US Air Force that its new "bunker buster," the GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator, had passed a successful test. According to the Israeli media report, the 2,260-kg (5,000 pounds) bomb might be used to hit Iran's nuclear facilities.
© Photo : US Air ForceThe 96th Test Wing recently concluded a GBU-72 test series which featured the first ever load, flight and release of the 5,000-pound weapon at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The 96th Test Wing recently concluded a GBU-72 test series which featured the first ever load, flight and release of the 5,000-pound weapon at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The Times of Israel, citing the local Channel 12 report, indicated that the GBU-72 is meant to be carried by a fighter jet or a heavy bomber, and Israel lacks bombers capable of transporting the huge bunker busters currently in the US armory. Instead, a smaller bunker buster bomb, the GBU-28, was reportedly secretly sold to Israel in 2009, despite it being unlikely to penetrate the presumed target of Israel's potential strikes, Iran's Fordow nuclear plant, which is situated deep beneath a mountain.
According to the report, the US test was likely based on Israel's experience destroying Palestinian militant group Hamas' underground tunnel network in Gaza during the conflict in May.
Israel has "greatly accelerated" preparations for action against Iran's nuclear program, according to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, who reportedly spoke to the Walla news site in September.
Kohavi reportedly stated that a large chunk of the previously agreed-upon increase in the defense budget was meant for this purpose, noting that it was a considerably more difficult task, requiring more intelligence, operational ability, and armaments.
The Jewish State's PM Naftali Bennett said at the UN General Assembly in late September that the Iranian nuclear program "has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance."
"Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning… We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," he stressed.
Earlier, the US administration said it is still pursuing a joint US-Iranian return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), from which the US unilaterally withdrew under then-President Trump, but noted that those talks could not and will not go on "indefinitely."
12 October 2021, 21:07 GMT
In response to the US unilaterally ditching the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran began to gradually increase the volume of its nuclear program, enriching uranium to the values prohibited by the original agreement deal. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly noted, however, that its nuclear program is not designed for military purposes.
At the same time, Iranian officials have pointed to double standards when it comes to nuclear weapons, given that Israel is widely believed to have obtained nukes long ago. According to estimates, Tel-Aviv might possess up to 90 nuclear warheads.
In September, Tehran called on nuclear powers to begin scrapping their nuclear arsenals, calling nuclear disarmament "a legal, political and moral responsibility."