Nuclear Iran: Sites and potential targets

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear in a March 5, 2012,  White House meeting with President Obama, and subsequent remarks to American lawmakers and a powerful Jewish interest group, that his government is growing impatient with Iran's suspect nuclear program.

    Israel is adamant that intelligence shows Iran is working behind closed doors at nuclear research labs, underground bunkers and military installations across the country to try to develop a nuclear weapon. At least some members of the U.S. intelligence community agree. Iran's Islamic cleric-led government insists their nuclear program is strictly for the production of electricity and medical isotopes.

    For more than a decade, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has fought for access to Iranian facilities where intelligence suggests work possibly linked to a secret weapons program. Many sites have been inspected, yielding volumes of technical reports which paint, at best, an ominous but murky picture. There has not been definitive proof Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. But on almost every visit, IAEA inspectors leave Iran complaining that the regime allowed them incomplete access or information.

    Israel - within range of some of Iran's missiles - feels it cannot take a chance with a country which has publicly vowed to destroy it. The Israelis argue a strike should be carried out soon, or it may be too late to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapons capability.

    While the White House continues pushing Netanyahu to give diplomacy and sanctions more time to persuade the Iranians, many in the Obama administration seem to have accepted, perhaps reluctantly, the "strong likelihood" of a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran. President Obama has said the United States will "have Israel's back," even if it does launch a strike. (At left, click to see Obama and Netanyahu speak together at the White House)

    Israel's military has, for fairly obvious reasons, not listed the sites it would try to target in a preemptive strike on Iran. However, public knowledge of Iran's nuclear and military installations and past reports from IAEA inspections sheds light on some likely locations.

    What follows is a look at those theoretical targets and some of the other sites vital to Iran's nuclear program. The list has not been and is unlikely to ever be confirmed by either Israeli or U.S. officials.

    It also does not include myriad manufacturing locations across the country where Iran produces the components for its enrichment process, or research and development sites which are unknown or unconfirmed by the IAEA. It also excludes the conventional military installations and missile facilities around the Islamic Republic that Israel may try to incapacitate in any preemptive strike.

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