BBC - Will Israel Bomb Iran

This World investigates the debate going on in Israel about how to deal with Iran's nuclear project, which divides the diplomatic world.

Iran insists that its programme is exclusively peaceful, citing the international treaty which gives it the right to use atomic energy to produce power. Yet there remains deep diplomatic suspicion of Iran in the West, and growing alarm that it is exploiting its civil nuclear programme as a cover to produce atomic weapons.

Israel is the crux. Seen in the Arab world as America's outpost in the Middle East, Israel's very existence is regarded as a "stain" by Iran's Islamic regime which came to power in 1979.

Within two months of his election, Iran's current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad approvingly quoted Ayatollah Khomeini's call for Israel to be "removed from the pages of history".

The statement drew fierce condemnation inside Israel and crystallised attitudes towards Iran among Israelis.

Intelligence reports

Israel's former Prime Minister Shimon Peres called for the international community to shun Iran.

He said: "Iran is the only member of the United Nations that threatens publicly to destroy another member of the United Nations. It is a call for genocide."

The Israeli leadership had already become increasingly concerned by intelligence reports on Iran's nuclear project.

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Frank Kitman