Iran within range of Israeli rocket


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The Independent Online

Israel has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile able to reach Iran, fuelling a debate over whether it is agitating for a military attack on Tehran's atomic facilities.

While Israeli leaders have long warned that a military strike was an option, the most intensive round of public discourse on the subject was ignited over the weekend by a report that said prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Ehud Barak favour an attack.

That was followed by another that said Mr Netanyahu is now lobbying cabinet members for an attack, despite the complexity of the operation and the high likelihood it would draw a deadly retaliation from Iran.

An Israeli defence official confirmed the missile test saying it was an exercise planned long ago.

Further information was censored by the military. Foreign reports, however, said it was a long-range Jericho missile.

Israel considers Iran its most dangerous threat. It cites Tehran's nuclear programme, its ballistic missile development, repeated references by the Iranian leader to Israel's destruction andIran's support for anti-Israel militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Iran denies the allegations that it aims to produce a bomb, saying its nuclear programme is meant only to produce energy.

It has blamed Israel for disruptions in it, including the mysterious assassinations of a string of Iranian nuclear scientists and a computer virus that wiped out nuclear centrifuges.

Israel has repeatedly said that it hopes economic sanctions will persuade Iran to halt its nuclear programme. Israeli diplomats have been lobbying the international community for tougher sanctions.