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“British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission,” the paper said.

In addition, Israeli television’s Channel 2 reported late Wednesday that Gen. David Richards, chief of Britain’s defense staff, conferred with Israeli officials last week during a three-day visit that had not been revealed publicly, contrary to normal procedure.

Israel’s defense minister, Mr. Barak, flew to London this week.

According to foreign reports, the Jericho missile tested Wednesday is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching Iran. It is not the first time Israel has test-fired missiles capable of reaching Iran.

Military analysts say there is little time left if Israel intends to carry out a sustained raid before winter, when cloud cover becomes a serious impediment.

An attack probably would involve hundreds of aircraft. In the past, the air force has carried out long-range exercises over the Mediterranean to simulate an attack on targets 1,000 miles or more from base.

The planes presumably would strike first at Iran’s aerial defense capabilities, including the Iranian air force. Israel has acquired from the U.S. powerful bunker-busting bombs that would be needed to strike at targets hidden in mountain caves or deep underground.

Several current and former Israeli officials strongly oppose the idea of a unilateral strike. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has called the idea “stupid” and warned that it would set off a regional war.

Former Labor Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said this week said that such an attack would ignite “a horror scenario.”

In Iran, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, said Iran would retaliate strongly against Israel and U.S. interests if attacked. “We take the threats seriously, no matter how remote or unlikely,” he said.

Israel considers Iran its most dangerous threat.

The Islamic republic’s leader — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Iran also supports Israel’s enemies — the Islamist militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as Syria.

Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran has said is not geared toward making an atomic weapon, has been a great concern for Israel as well as Western powers, which have imposed several sanctions against the regime.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is due to focus on the Iranian program at a meeting this month, the Associated Press reported. The West is pushing for a resolution that could set a deadline for Iran to start cooperating with an agency probe of suspicions that Tehran is secretly experimenting with components of a weapons program.