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As nuclear pact hangs in the balance, Israel weighs action against Iran: Jerusalem Post

Jack Guez | AFP| Getty Images

The nuclear agreement being negotiated between Iran and world powers is unpalatable to Israel, and may hasten the prospect of a military confrontation with Tehran, The Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday.

As the globe's six major nuclear powers inch toward a Nov. 24 deadline to strike a comprehensive deal with Iran, sources within Israel's government told the publication that the proposal to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions would all but guarantee the standoff would continue.

Outlines of the deal would restrict Iran's nuclear program for ten years, and cap its ability to weaponize fissile material to at least nine months, the Post reported.

Tehran has yet to indicate its agreement. However, Israeli officials told the paper that intelligence surrounding the program was still unclear over how extensive the nuclear program was, and Israel appears unwilling to take the risk. In August, Iran's Revolutionary Guard shot down a drone near the Natanz nuclear facility that Tehran said originated from Israel.

Separately, Israel has publicly demanded for years that Iran shutter another plant in Qom, which it suspects Iran is using to enrich uranium. Officials told the Post that Jerusalem is unsatisfied with the outlines of a nuclear pact that may prove insufficient to check Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

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"Our intelligence agencies are not perfect," an unnamed official told the Post. "We did not know for years about Natanz and Qom. And inspection regimes are certainly not perfect. They weren't in the case in North Korea, and it isn't the case now – Iran's been giving the IAEA the run around for years about its past activities."

According to the report, a version of the proposal seen by officials in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not require Iran to completely dismantle its atomic infrastructure. That has raised concerns in Jerusalem that the deal will give Iran a loophole to exploit.

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A separate report by Reuters, however, said the two camps were struggling to bridge differences to reaching a comprehensive agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that "big gaps" remained before the Monday deadline, and a European source told the news agency that striking a final deal by Monday was "very small."

In the past, Israel has made preventive strikes against the facilities of neighbors it considers a threat to its security interests. Back in 2007, the Jewish state launched a surprise preemptive strike against a nuclear plant in Syria.

In 1981, Israeli forces bombed Iraq's Osirak reactor, which was constructed by France. At the time, the air strike was the first ever against a nuclear plant.

The entire Jerusalem Post can be found here.