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Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
Hugh Tomlinson, Times, Jun 12 2010

Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In the week that the UNSC imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence 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 unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert. A US defence source in the area said:

The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way. 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 State Dept.

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence 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. One source said:

We all know this. We will let them through and see nothing.

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. The targets lie as far as 1,400 miles from Israel; the outer limits of their bombers’ range, even with aerial refuelling. An open corridor across northern Saudi Arabia would significantly shorten the distance. An airstrike would involve multiple waves of bombers, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest. Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit agreement to the raid from Washington. So far, the Obama Administration has refused to give its approval as it pursues a diplomatic solution to curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Military analysts say Israel has held back only because of this failure to secure consensus from the US and Arab states. Military analysts doubt that an airstrike alone would be sufficient to knock out the key nuclear facilities, which are heavily fortified and deep underground or within mountains. However, if the latest sanctions prove ineffective the pressure from the Israelis on Washington to approve military action will intensify. Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium after the UNSC imposed its toughest sanctions yet in an effort to halt the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme. Ahmadinejad has described the UN resolution as “a used handkerchief, which should be thrown in the dustbin.” Israeli officials refused to comment yesterday on details for a raid on Iran, which Netanyahu has refused to rule out. Questioned on the option of a Saudi flight path for Israeli bombers, Aharaon Zeevi Farkash, who headed military intelligence until 2006 and has been involved in war games simulating a strike on Iran, said:

I know that Saudi Arabia is even more afraid than Israel of an Iranian nuclear capacity.

In 2007 Israel was reported to have used Turkish air space to attack a suspected nuclear reactor being built by Iran’s main regional ally, Syria. Although Turkey publicly protested against the “violation” of its air space, it is thought to have turned a blind eye in what many saw as a dry run for a strike on Iran’s far more substantial and better-defended nuclear sites. Israeli intelligence experts say that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are at least as worried as themselves and the West about an Iranian nuclear arsenal.Israel has sent missile-class warships and at least one submarine capable of launching a nuclear warhead through the Suez Canal for deployment in the Red Sea within the past year, as both a warning to Iran and in anticipation of a possible strike. Israeli newspapers reported last year that high-ranking officials, including former PM Olmert, have met their Saudi Arabian counterparts to discuss the Iranian issue. It was also reported that Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, met Saudi intelligence officials last year to gain assurances that Riyadh would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets violating Saudi airspace during the bombing run. Both governments have denied the reports.

9 Comments

  1. Hoarsewhisperer
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    I don’t blame them. The chance to see an Israeli suicide bomber up close would be irresistible.
    Everyone in the ME with a camera will be there hoping to get a snapshot. They know that if they don’t get a photo of the first Jews in history to put their own life at risk, no-one will believe them.

    Btw, it’s amusing that the Saudis have assigned a tightly specified safe corridor for the s-bombers. Anyone want to bet that they won’t have an ‘accidental’ SNAFU with the Air Defense OFF switch?

  2. niqnaq
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Four heavy bombers escorted by a squadron of two dozen fighters just flew low over my house in east London, heading west.

  3. hans
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Don’t the “tribe” Hasbara not ever tire themselves with these constant repeats? Tell me something new please.

  4. moonkoon
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Four heavy bombers and two dozen fighters just flew low over my house in east London, heading west.

    I expect they would be heading off to stand shoulder to shoulder with one of their NATO brothers-in-arms. 🙂

  5. niqnaq
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s really unusual for military aircraft, let alone something like this, to fly over London. I had to check there wasn’t a ceremonial fly-past or something going on. Most impressive.

    Perhaps they were dropping Morgellon’s spores :mrgreen: . I didn’t see any trails, though. They were far too low to leave contrails. They must have gone straight over central London, still at only a couple of thousand feet.

  6. niqnaq
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    aha, it was a ceremonial fly-past:

    “The queen then stood on the palace balcony to watch a military fly-past that ended with aircraft trailing red, white, and blue,”
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/06/12/uk.queens.birthday/

  7. BillWade
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I usually only read 2 comics a day but this makes 3. The Iranians don’t have much air capability but Izzy fighters coming out of what sounds like a funnel should be fun. Makes little to no sense at all.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    RE: “The queen then stood on the palace balcony…” – CNN via niqnaq
    MY COMMENT: I really love her cranial adornments! Bella Abzug had some great hats, too.

  9. niqnaq
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    When the Royals returned to the Palace they watched a three-minute 40-second fly-past by the Royal Air Force at 1pm. It was made up of 28 aeroplanes of 11 different types, from WW2 aircraft to modern multi-role Typhoon fighters and the Red Arrows aerobatic display team. (Telegraph)

    So my count was bang on. But the planes looked to me to be of just two types, 4 intercontinental jet bombers and a squadron of 24 jet fighters. Maybe the journalist was hallucinating.

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