By Arie Egozi
Tel Aviv: Iran is worried by the Israeli indications about an armed option against Tehran’s nuclear program. This comes as a direct response to the recent declaration of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Lt. General Aviv Kochavi.
Earlier this week he told reporters that the newly approved defence budget will address operational plans for attack plans on Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities, with a dedicated intelligence team assembled for the task.
“The progress in the Iranian nuclear program has led the IDF to speed up its operational plans, and the defence budget that was recently approved is meant to address this,” Kochavi said, speaking to military correspondents ahead of the Jewish New Year.
On August 25, Israel Air Force Commander Maj. General Amikam Norkin returned from a three-day visit to the United States, where he met with his US Air Force and Navy counterparts, and with the heads of several major US industries, who are considered central partners to the IAF.
According to Michael Segal, a researcher in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in parallel with reports of Israel’s preparations for a possible attack on Iran and a visit by the Israeli prime minister to the United States, Iran inaugurated a command and control facility of the Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Group (HM ADG) around the nuclear site in Fordow in the Qom district.
Iran’s military air defence commander Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard inaugurated the headquarters, saying that Iran was expanding its air defence system and “the enemy cannot even think of attacking Iran.” He praised Iran’s air and cyber defence systems, saying they were very technologically advanced. The HM ADG was formed in 2009 to protect the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP).
Fordow is an underground facility for enriching uranium using IR2-M centrifuges. In January, Iran began enriching uranium at the facility to 20 percent. At the same time, the Natanz enrichment facility in Isfahan began enriching uranium to 60 percent with advanced IR-6 and IR- 4 centrifuges. A fire broke out in the Natanz facility in April 2021.
In January 2013, an explosion occurred at a facility in Fordow and at a nearby electrical facility.
Mahdi Farahi, deputy defense minister, said that Iran would soon launch a new and more advanced version of the Iranian-built Bavar-373 air defense system that may be at the same or higher level than the advanced Russian air defense system S-400. Iran unveiled Bavar-373 in August 2019 after it independently developed a system in response to Russia’s prohibition on exporting the Defense S-300 system to Iran. Iran claimed that the new system was capable of identifying 300 targets simultaneously, tracking 60 of them, engaging six targets simultaneously, and even resist attempts to jam the system.
If the Iranian system is better than the Russian system, it will be able to hit targets within 400 km, said Dmitry Shugaev, director of the Russian Military-Technical Cooperation Service in June. During a visit to the ARMY-2020 exhibition in Russia, the Iranian defense minister was interested in several Russian air defense systems, including the S-400. So Iran is getting prepared to an Israeli military operation against its nuclear facilities.