UPDATE: Saudi Arabia would not allow Israeli bombers to pass through its airspace en route to a possible strike of Iran's nuclear facilities, a member of the Saudi royal family said Saturday, denying an earlier Times of London report.
Saudi Arabia has practiced standing down its anti-aircraft systems to allow Israeli warplanes passage on their way to attack Iran's nuclear installations, a British newspaper reported on Saturday.
The Saudis have allocated a narrow corridor of airspace in the north of the country that would cut flying time from Israel to Iran, the London Times reported.
Israel and the West accuse of designs on a nuclear bomb, a charge it denies.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” the Times quoted an unnamed U.S. defense source in the area as saying. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [U.S.] State Department.”
Once the Israelis had passed, the kingdom’s air defenses would return to full alert, the Times said.
Despite tensions between them, Israel and Saudi Arabia share a mutual hostility to Iran.
“We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” the Times quoted a Saudi government source as saying.
According to the report, the four main targets for an Israeli raid on Iran would be uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, a gas storage development at Isfahan and a heavy-water reactor at Arak.
Secondary targets may include a Russian-built light water reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.
Even with midair refueling, the targets would be as the far edge of Israeli bombers' range at a distance of some 2,250km. An attack would likely involve several waves of aircraft, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest, the Times said.
Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit consent to the raid from the United States, whose troops are occupying the country. So far, the Obama Administration has refused this.
On Wednesday the United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in an attempt to force it to stop enriching uranium. But immediately after the UN vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed the nuclear program would continue.
Israel hailed the vote – but said sanctions were not enough and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to rule out a raid.
Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, is believed to have held secret meetings with high-ranking Saudi officials over Iran.