jet - Eliahu Hershkovitz - October 6, 2010
Israeli F-16 Hawk fighter plane. Photo by Eliahu Hershkovitz
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The Israel Defense Forces is forming a command to supervise "depth" operations, actions undertaken by the military far from Israel's borders, the army announced on Thursday.

The new authority will be commanded by a military officer at the rank of Major General, and will be headed by the former chief of the elite Sayeret Matkal special forces unit Shai Avital, who will return to military serivce to fill the position.

Onoing concerns with Iran's contentious nuclear program serve as the backdrop for the IDF's annoucement, with both U.S. and Israeli officials noting that, while diplomatic efforts were the preferred tool with attempting to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, no options were "off the table."

On Wednesday, diplomatic sources said that Iran could soon launch sensitive atomic activities in an underground facility deep inside a mountain, a development likely to add to tension between Tehran and the West.

Iranian experts have carried out the necessary preparations at Fordow near the holy city of Qom, paving the way for the Islamic state to begin higher-grade uranium enrichment at the site on a former military base.

The machines, equipment and nuclear material needed have been transferred and installed at Fordow, the sources added, suggesting the work itself - until now conducted above ground at another location - could start when Iran takes the decision.

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