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Israel has tracked the whereabouts of Iran’s atomic scientists and also would target their homes.

Israeli pilots have practiced long-range missions, complete with in-air refueling via sophisticated aerial tanker-fighter maneuvers to extend their aircraft’s range of operation by hundreds of miles.

“The United States has provided the airplanes, bombs and missiles, and the aerial refueling tankers to support the kind of sustained strikes that would be required to attack the known sites inside Iran,” said James Russell, an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., who worked at the Pentagon on arms transfers to U.S. allies.

“This is not a matter of blowing up a reactor in a single mission,” he said. “Iran’s infrastructure is spread out over the country. Some of the sites, like Natanz, are said to be deeply buried and built to withstand aerial bombing by the kinds of bunker-buster bombs the United States has provided.

“Conducting these strikes would be difficult, but not impossible.”

Israel would position diesel-powered Dolphin-class submarines within missile range, perhaps in the Arabian Sea. Sub-launched Harpoon cruise missiles could strike Iranian radars, air-defense jets and nuclear sites.

“I think a lot of it is going to be done through the use of submarines,” said Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon policymaker who focused on the Middle East and Central Asia. “They have very capable missile submarines.”

Israel also has an arsenal of Jericho surface-to-surface missiles that were built primarily to carry nuclear warheads. The Jewish state is estimated to own about 85 nuclear weapons.

It is likely that Israel’s military, which is skilled at adapting multitask weapons, has reconfigured the Jericho to carry conventional explosives.

Two years ago, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon boasted of the IDF’s combat readiness.

“This capability can be used for a war on terror in Gaza, for a war in the face of rockets from Lebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army and also for war on a peripheral state like Iran,” said Mr. Ya’alon, who served as IDF chief of staff in the 2000s.

Israeli officials reportedly are mulling a military attack on Iran’s nuclear program, which they regard as an existential threat, given the Islamic republic’s calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Israel and Western nations suspect that Iranian atomic research is geared toward bomb-making, despite Iran’s assertions that its nuclear program is only for peaceful, civilian uses.

A question of capacity

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula knows how to conduct an air war.

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