- - Sunday, February 5, 2012

JERUSALEM — An Iranian official on Sunday called for a pre-emptive missile attack against Israel before the end of the year in order to forestall an Israeli attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.

Ahmed Tavakoli, head of the Iranian Parliament’s research institute, issued the remark in an article on the institute’s website, according to Ehud Ya’ari, Middle East affairs commentator for Israel’s Channel Two.

It marks the first time such a call has been heard in Iran and comes amid reports that Israeli officials believe they will have no alternative but to strike soon against Iran’s nuclear facilities if Tehran’s progress toward an atomic weapon is not halted.

Mr. Tavakoli said a pre-emptive strike would be justified in Islamic terms and in practical military terms, given the threats emanating from Israel.

Noting that Israel lies within the range of Iranian rockets, even those fired from deep inside Iran, he proposed hitting sites between Israel’s coastal plain south of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, an area where Israel’s long-range missiles are believed to be stored underground, Channel Two reported.

He also proposed hitting Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona, near the Dead Sea, and a small nuclear reactor used for scientific research at Nahal Sorek, south of Tel Aviv.

Mr. Tavakoli did not include Tel Aviv or other population centers among his proposed targets. Israeli threats likewise have focused on nuclear sites.

Both countries have satellites presumably capable of monitoring activity in the other’s country.

Israel also has a sophisticated missile-defense system, the Arrow, that has proved itself in tests but not yet in battle.