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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Israel conducts first civilian exercise to prepare for 'dirty bomb' attack

TEL AVIV — On Sept. 2, the Israeli Defense Ministry launched an exercise meant to respond to a radiation strike in Tel Aviv. Officials said this was the first such Israeli exercise and envisioned thousands of casualties, Middle East Newsline reported.

"This is the first time that all of the country's relevant authorities will be tested in real time on how to respond to a dirty bomb and not a missile attack," a defense official told the Jerusalem Post.

"There are a number of scenarios that are all extreme. They include the contamination of our water system as well as the detonation of a suitcase carrying radioactive material."

Officials said the military has determined that Iran and Syria were helping insurgency groups assemble radiation bombs in an attempt to conduct a mass-casualty attack. They said the radiation material could be inserted into a rocket, missile or placed aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle.

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"Both Iran and Syria have accumulated arsenals of radiation material that could be used in dirty bombs," an official said.

Officials said Iran and Syria were believed to be preparing squads to smuggle radiation, chemical or biological weapons for attacks against Israel. They said such an attack could serve as retaliation for any Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"A dirty bomb would have no fingerprints and would be just as damaging as a missile strike by either Iran or Syria," another official said. "You could smuggle such a bomb anywhere."

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