Israel would halt atomic operations at its Nahal Sorek and Dimona reactors during missile strikes against the country to limit the potential for harm to the nuclear sites, Haaretz reported on Wednesday (see GSN, Nov. 30, 2011).
The Israeli Atomic Energy Commission made the decision on the shutdown strategy in collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces' Home Front Command.
The present belief of the Home Front Command and Israeli atomic energy officials is that the defenses in place for the reactors -- interceptor systems and reinforced infrastructure -- should be adequate to limit any destruction caused by a missile strike on the plants. Still, as a precautionary measure, atomic operations would come to a stop at the reactors if it appears a new war is imminent. A halt of nuclear activities could also be ordered during times of heightened security challenges such as a new wave of rocket attacks.
Jerusalem says the reactors conduct research work and are not required to operate around-the-clock, every single day. The Dimona facility is believed to have been key to production of Israel's nuclear weapons, though the nation neither confirms nor denies that it holds such an arsenal.
The Israeli government has drawn up contingency plans for a strike on the reactors in the event of war with foes such as Syria, Iran or nonstate actors such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Strikes on the reactors could be carried out with unmanned or manned aircraft, rockets and missiles.
In the event of an attack, reactor personnel would still come to work but would conduct their tasks from reinforced areas.
Dimona could be hit by ground-to-ground missiles possessed by Iran, Syria and the Lebanese group Hezbollah, while rockets launched from the Gaza Strip could strike areas inside the Nahal Sorek site, according to Haaretz. In early 1991, Iraq unsuccessfully attempted to hit the Dimona reactor with Scud missiles.
Jerusalem has longstanding plans in place to respond to attempted intelligence-gathering sorties or strikes against Dimona with fighter jets and land-based missiles (Amir Oren, Haaretz, Jan. 4).
Israeli military officers foresee that their country in 2017 could come under attack from approximately 15,000 missiles and rockets in a potential clash with Syria and Hezbollah, the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday. Iran and Hamas are also seen as sources for missile and rocket attacks against Israel (see related GSN story, today).
Such an onslaught would be expected to result in a previously unexperienced level of destruction, injury and death.
The Home Front Command in a recent analysis estimated that one casualty would result from every 100 missiles launched. The Israeli military that the majority of rockets launched would have short ranges while another 5,500 weapons would be able to travel as far as 43 miles.
"The arsenals that surround us are increasing in their quantity, quality as well as in their accuracy,' a high-ranking Israeli officer said.
Within five years, Israel estimates that Iran, Hezbollah and Syria will possess nearly 1,000 rockets with high-precision targeting (Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3).
Israel would halt atomic operations at its Nahal Sorek and Dimona reactors during missile strikes against the country to limit the potential for harm to the nuclear sites, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.