Ballistic missiles could be Israel's weapon of choice against Iranian nuclear facilities if it decides on a pre-emptive attack and deems air strikes too risky, according to a report by a Washington think-tank.
Israel is widely assumed to have Jericho missiles capable of hitting Iran with an accuracy of a few dozen meters (yards) from target. Such a capability would be free of warplanes' main drawbacks - limits on fuel and ordnance, and perils to pilots.
Extrapolating from analyst assessments that the most advanced Jerichos carry 750 kg (1,650 lb) conventional warheads, Abdullah Toukan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said 42 missiles would be enough to "severely damage or demolish" Iran's core nuclear sites at Natanz, Esfahan and Arak.
"If the Jericho III is fully developed and its accuracy is quite high then this scenario could look much more feasible than using combat aircraft," he said in the March 14 report, titled "Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran's Nuclear Development Facilities".
Israel, whose jets bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 and mounted a similar sortie over Syria in 2007, has hinted that it could forcibly deny Iran the means to make an atomic bomb.