Jerusalem Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran's nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran's atomic program, even if it can't destroy it.
Such talk could be more threat than reality. However, Iran's refusal to accept Western conditions is worrying Israel, as is the perception that Washington now prefers diplomacy over confrontation with Tehran.
The Jewish state has purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran and will receive 11 more by the end of next year. It has bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany reportedly capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads - in addition to the three it already has.
This summer, its air maneuvers in the Mediterranean touched off an international debate over whether they were a "dress rehearsal" for an attack, a warning to Iran or just a way to get allies to step up the pressure on Tehran.
The issue of Iran's nuclear program took on new urgency this week after U.S. officials rejected Tehran's response to an incentives package aimed at getting it to stop sensitive nuclear activity - setting the stage for a fourth round of international sanctions against the country.
Israel believes Tehran will have enriched enough uranium for a nuclear bomb by next year or 2010 at the latest. The United States has trimmed its estimate that Iran is several years or as much as a decade away from being able to field a bomb, but has not been precise about a timetable.
"Israel takes (Iranian President) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements regarding its destruction seriously," said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz at a policy forum in Washington last week. "Israel cannot risk another Holocaust."
The Iranian leader has in the past called for Israel's elimination, though his exact remarks have been disputed. Some translators say he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," while others say a better translation would be "vanish from the pages of time" - implying Israel would disappear on its own rather than be destroyed.