Newspapers in Tehran jumped at revelations reported by both the German and American press on Sunday.
The Yediot Aharonot, Maariv and Haaretz dailies all splashed on a Los Angeles Times report that modified US-made cruise missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads on submarines.
This would allow Israel to launch atomic weapons from land, air or sea.
Strike plans prepared
The 3 newspapers also carried reports in Monday’s edition of the Germany Der Spiegel magazine that a special Mossad unit received orders 2 months ago to prepare plans for strikes.
Around half a dozen targets in Iran are suspected of being used to prepare nuclear weapons by Tel Aviv.
US-built F-16 fighter bombers could completely destroy the sites, according to Israeli security officials quoted in the German magazine.
Maariv published a map of Iran complete with aerial shots of the suspected nuclear sites.
Yediot even ran a photograph of an Israeli Dauphin submarine, using a graphic to explain how it could sneak up on the enemy and fire its nuclear warheads.
Not the first time
In 1981, Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear power station near Baghdad, smashing former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s nuclear programme, the 3 Israeli papers reminded their readers.
Iran would pose a much stronger
But a similar air attack against Iran would be far riskier.
Its nuclear sites are dotted across vast expanses and Iran’s eastern border is 1300km from Israeli air bases, making bombing sorties vulnerable.
However, Israeli political sources quoted by Yediot said there is no prospect of military action against Iran at this stage.
One senior official branded the weekend’s press reports “mere speculation. Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear arms to the Middle East, nor the first to use them.”
Tel Aviv has neither confirmed nor denied having nuclear arms, but Washington has accepted it as a nuclear power since 1969 and analysts say it has up to 200 sophisticated nuclear weapons.
Honest peace broker
Arab countries have criticised the United States and the United Nations for pressuring Iran to accept even tougher inspections while ignoring the stockpile in Israel, which is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has never been inspected.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has imposed a 31 October deadline on Iran to prove it is not secretly developing nuclear weapons and also urged it to suspend enriching uranium, which the United States claims could be used to make nuclear bombs.
In a 1991 documentary on Israeli television, then foreign minister Shimon Peres revealed for the first time that France had agreed to equip Israel with a nuclear capability in 1956.