Iran has moved ballistic missiles into launch positions, with Israel's Dimona nuclear plant among the possible targets, defence sources said last week.
The movement of Shahab-3B missiles, which have an estimated range of more than 2000km, followed a large-scale exercise earlier this month in which the Israeli air force flew en masse over the Mediterranean in an apparent rehearsal for a threatened attack on Iran's nuclear installations. Israel believes Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons.
The sources said Iran was preparing to retaliate for any onslaught by firing missiles at Dimona, where Israel's own nuclear weapons are believed to be made.
The sabre-rattling coincided with a visit to Israel yesterday by Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, for talks with his Israeli counterpart, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi. This intensified speculation that Israel was seeking US approval for a possible attack on Iran.
We ask what is the likely impact of this tension on the handling of the Iranian nuclear issue and the stability of the Gulf?