Iran set to expand nuclear activity in underground facility, sources say

IAEA envoy expects to see Iranian efforts ‘jump’ in Fordo site near Qom, located deep inside a mountain to protect it from possible airstrikes.

“I think we will see a jump in the potential state of readiness of the facility,” one Vienna-based envoy said.

Fordo is of particular concern for the West and Israel as Iran is shifting the most controversial aspect of its nuclear work, refining uranium to a level that takes it significantly closer to potential bomb material, to the site.

Estimated to be buried beneath 80 meters of rock and soil, it gives Iran better protection against any Israeli or U.S. military strikes.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has warned that the Islamic state’s nuclear research could soon pass into what he called a “zone of immunity,” protected from outside disruption.

Full article: Iran set to expand nuclear activity in underground facility, sources say (Haaretz)

Is Israel preparing to attack Iran?

Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action, which would be triggered by intelligence that Iran is building a bomb, which it hasn’t done yet.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak may have signaled the prospect of an Israeli attack soon when he asked last month to postpone a planned U.S.-Israel military exercise that would culminate in a live-fire phase in May. Barak apologized that Israel couldn’t devote the resources to the annual exercise this spring.

Full article: Is Israel preparing to attack Iran? (Washington Post)