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Attack on Iran Uranium Sites Could Take Just 'Hours': Israeli Minister

A soldier mans an anti-aircraft gun at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in 2007. Israel's intelligence minister has suggested Iran's uranium refinement facilities could be eliminated by airstrikes in "a few hours" (AP photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian). A soldier mans an anti-aircraft gun at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant in 2007. Israel's intelligence minister has suggested Iran's uranium refinement facilities could be eliminated by airstrikes in "a few hours" (AP photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian).

Destroying Iran's key uranium-enrichment facilities might require only “a few hours of airstrikes,” Yuval Steinitz, Israeli minister for international affairs, strategy and intelligence, told the Washington Post for a Wednesday report.

Steinitz offered the comment as he urged the United States to demand that Iran halt its uranium refinement effort or "see it destroyed with brute force." The potential for the process to generate nuclear-bomb fuel has placed the facilities at the center of an international dispute, but Tehran defends its atomic activities as strictly peaceful endeavors that it is legally entitled to pursue.

Iran might launch "several hundred missiles" against Israel in response to any airstrikes, Steinitz acknowledged, but said any such volleys would inflict "very little damage because we can intercept many of them."

The Israeli minister's assertions followed warnings that destroying possibly weapon-related Iranian nuclear facilities -- which include a number of other sites -- would be a sophisticated undertaking. In one case, a U.S. general declared such an offensive would require days or weeks of sustained bombing.

Separately, London's Guardian newspaper on Thursday published a statement attributed to 55 imprisoned Iranian dissidents that urges the United States to lift nuclear penalties on the country holding them captive.

Elsewhere, the head of a Russian state-run atomic energy firm said it is getting ready to hand Tehran full control of a nuclear power plant near the Iranian town of Bushehr, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. The facility "is currently operating at 100 percent capacity," Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko added.

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