‘Moment of truth is near:’ Israeli Air Force set to attack Iran

Israeli Air Force fighter F-16C taking off from the Uvda Air Force base in the southern Israel (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)
Israel has once again demonstrated its readiness to launch a massive assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Israeli Air Force is geared up and ready to strike as soon as the order is given, a major Israeli TV station reported.

­A reporter from Israel's Channel 10 TV station has spent several weeks interviewing pilots and other military personnel at an Israeli air base. Dozens of pilots are inspired with the prospect of Israel’s first full-scale air campaign in 30 years. Most of the interviewees spoke openly about the “year's preparations” that are now almost over, as the country heads towards a hot and tense summer.

“Dozens if not more planes” are being prepared to carry out an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, the reporter Alon Ben-David said. This includes F-15 fighter jets, escort planes and air tankers to refuel the squadron en route to its target.

Unmanned drones are also expected to play a role in the operation. The all-weather fully-automatic UAV Eitan was designed for strategic reconnaissance but reportedly has assault capabilities as well. “This plane can do all that is required of it when the order is given,” one of the pilots said as cited in the report.

When the order is given, the assault will be “short and professional,” pilots say.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned earlier that, although IAF has the capability to deliver a crushing blow to Iran’s nuclear facilities and wipe out years of research, such an attack would have serious repercussions. He said that such an operation would trigger a war in Gaza – and that in retaliation, Iran would launch hundreds of missiles at Israel.

One of major problem the IAF will be facing is the Russian-made advanced anti-aircraft systems deployed in many countries across the region, including Iran and Syria. Israel's military personnel are aware that by no means will all of them get home safe from the mission.

Moreover, the pilots had already been told where their families would be moved when the assault begins – proof that attack day is drawing close, as the report mentions.

Israel believes that a nuclear-equipped Iran would pose an existential threat to it. As a result, Israel has repeatedly reiterated its threats to deal with the issue militarily. Defense Minister Ehud Barak even spoke of a three-month deadline for Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions, which ends in mid-summer.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is fully civilian, and any enriched uranium it produces is for medical and research purposes. The Islamic Republic has even said it is ready to make concessions on its nuclear program if the West takes “confidence-building measures” and lifts the crippling sanctions. “We are ready to resolve all issues very quickly and simply,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with the Iranian news agency ISNA. 

“It can speed up the process of negotiations, reaching results,” Salehi said, "if there is goodwill.” Iran is currently under four sets of UN sanctions over its nuclear program. The US and EU have also slapped Tehran with their own sets of sanctions, targeting the country's financial markets and oil industry.

The nuclear talks between Iran and six major world powers resumed on April 14. The latest meeting in Turkey was described as generally successful by the majority of participants, and the next round is scheduled for May 23 in Baghdad. Many consider these talks to be the last chance for a peaceful solution.