No response from Israel over Sudan bomb claim
ISRAEL IS refusing to respond to Sudanese claims that it was responsible for the bombing of a large Khartoum munitions plant in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Sudanese culture and information minister Ahmed Bilal Osman said four Israeli planes attacked the Yarmouk factory, causing huge blasts and a large fire. Two people were killed.
“We think Israel did the bombing. We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose.”
Mr Osman said four radar-evading aircraft attacked the plant from the east and that evidence pointing to Israel had been found among remnants of the explosives.
Israel claims Sudan is a conduit for arms shipments through Egypt to Gaza’s Hamas rulers, as well as other militant groups operating in the region. Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment on Sudan’s allegations but Amos Gilad, a senior defence ministry official, described Sudan as a “dangerous terrorist state”.
Israeli officials noted the high degree of co-operation between Sudan and Iran.
Four and a half years ago the two countries signed an agreement giving Iran the right to build factories in Sudan producing weapons. The Yarmouk complex was reportedly under the control of Iran’s revolutionary guards.
Sudan has blamed Israel for attacks in the past, including an air strike on an arms convoy in 2009, in which more than 100 people were killed.
Israeli newspapers speculated that the Khartoum attack might have been a test run for a possible strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, involving F-16 fighter jets flying at low altitude, mid-air refuelling and radar jamming techniques. While Khartoum is 1,900km from Israel, the Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz and Fordow are only 1,600km away.
However, Alex Fishman, military analyst for the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, noted that the challenge of a strike against Iran would be significantly more complex.
“The Iranians ought to be worried by Israel’s ability to deceive and achieve surprise at such a vast distance from home – if it was Israel that carried out the attack. They already learned something about those capabilities in the aftermath of the bombing of the Syrian reactor, if it was the Israel Air Force that carried out that attack. But Sudan does not have the air defence systems that Iran has, mainly around its nuclear facilities. A flight over Iran or to Iran is a more complicated effort.”
Meanwhile, western diplomats report that Iran appears to have almost finished installing centrifuges at its underground nuclear plant at Fordow, potentially boosting its capacity to make weapons-grade uranium if it chose to do so.
Iran only disclosed the existence of the plant, built inside a mountain to shield it from air strikes, in 2009 after learning that western spy services had detected it. Uranium is refined at Fordow to a fissile concentration of 20 per cent and western diplomats report that the last 640 centrifuges of a planned total of some 2,800 have been installed at the site, although Iran had not started running them yet.