Summary: more rumors of a strike by Israel at Iran, more in in a long string of rumors. Israel is sending signals of some kind to Iran. Does Iran fear an attack, or hope for one? Would a strike at Iran strengthen Israel’s geopolitical position, or destroy it? We can only guess at the answers. My guesses about these things are (1) Israel will not attack. (2) If it did, the results would be catastrophic for Israel.
- “Pentagon Official Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran“, ABC News (30 June 2008) — “U.S. Official Sees Two ‘Red Lines’ That Could Prompt Strike”
- “‘Israel Will Not Stand By While Iran Builds the Bomb’“, Der Spiegel (1 July 2008) – Interview with “Isaac Ben-Israel, a former Israeli Air Force general and now member of the ruling Kadima party.
- “FACTBOX – How might Israel attack Iran’s nuclear sites?“, Reuters (1 July 2008)
- (update) “Israel has a year to stop Iran bomb, warns ex-spy“, The Telegraph (29 June 2008)
- To see what Iran might do, look at the Millenium Challenge 2002 war simulation. (thanks for this to Robert Peterson)
This will all look very odd if the National Intelligence estimate about Iran proves to be correct. It would be nice if the major media would note that these rumors about Iran’s nuke program have little factual support in the public record. Their failure to do so is similar to the hysteria about Iraq’s WMD’s before the invasion.
Excerpts from these articles
I. “Pentagon Official Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran“, ABC News (30 June 2008) — “U.S. Official Sees Two ‘Red Lines’ That Could Prompt Strike” — Excerpt:
A senior defense official told ABC News there is an “increasing likelihood” that Israel will carry out such an attack, a move that likely would prompt Iranian retaliation against, not just Israel, but against the United States as well.
The official identified two “red lines” that could trigger an Israeli offensive. The first is tied to when Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility produces enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. According to the latest U.S. and Israeli intelligence assessments, that is likely to happen sometime in 2009, and could happen by the end of this year.
“The red line is not when they get to that point, but before they get to that point,” the official said. “We are in the window of vulnerability.”
The second red line is connected to when Iran acquires the SA-20 air defense system it is buying from Russia. The Israelis may want to strike before that system — which would make an attack much more difficult — is put in place.
Some Pentagon officials also worry that Israel may be determined to attack before a new U.S. president, who may be less supportive, is sworn in next January.
II. “‘Israel Will Not Stand By While Iran Builds the Bomb’“, Der Spiegel (1 July 2008) — “Isaac Ben-Israel, a former Israeli Air Force general and now member of the ruling Kadima party, spoke with SPIEGEL about the limits of sanctions in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. He says Israel is prepared to mount a military strike against the mullah regime if diplomacy fails.”
Ben-Israel: It may be more difficult, but it is possible. We could do it today. There is only one thing that keeps us from acting: The problem can still be solved another way. Only once the critical point is reached will we choose the final option.
SPIEGEL: When will the critical point be reached?
Ben-Israel: The intelligence services will make sure that we know.
SPIEGEL: Iran would not let a military strike go unanswered.
Ben-Israel: Of course they will react, they will launch a few dozen rockets at us, but that’s not so bad. And of course they can set the Lebanese Hezbollah on us. They are better armed than two years ago…
SPIEGEL: … when the Shiite militia seriously shook Israel during the Second Lebanon War.
III. “FACTBOX – How might Israel attack Iran’s nuclear sites?“, Reuters (1 July 2008) – “Following is an overview of Israeli armed forces and the tactics they might employ in any future conflict with Iran.”
This provides little detail on the range and load of Israel’s strike force. Nor does it discuss Israel’s limited aerial refueling capability. As of 2006, it consisted of Israel’s current refueling fleet consists of three Boeing 707 air-refueling aircraft and three Lockheed KC-130 tankers — all purchased in the 1970s (source: this article; same info at Wikipedia).
IV. “Israel has a year to stop Iran bomb, warns ex-spy“, The Telegraph (29 June 2008) — Excerpt:
Shabtai Shavit, an influential adviser to the Israeli parliament’s defence and foreign affairs committee, told The Sunday Telegraph that time was running out to prevent Iran’s leaders getting the bomb. Mr Shavit, who retired from the Israeli intelligence agency in 1996, warned that he had no doubt Iran intended to use a nuclear weapon once it had the capability, and that Israel must conduct itself accordingly. “The time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time,” he said in an interview.
Mr Shavit, 69, who was deputy director of Mossad when Israel bombed the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq in 1981, added: “As an intelligence officer working with the worst-case scenario, I can tell you we should be prepared. We should do whatever necessary on the defensive side, on the offensive side, on the public opinion side for the West, in case sanctions don’t work. What’s left is a military action.” The “worst-case scenario, he said, is that Iran may have a nuclear weapon within “somewhere around a year”.
It is, of course, crazy on the basis of public information about Iran’s nuke program to worry about Iran having a nuke within the next year. What is going on here?
V. To see what Iran might do, look at the Millenium Challenge 2002 war simulation. From Widipedia:
Red, commanded by retired Marine Corps Lt. General Paul K. Van Riper, used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to front-line troops, evading Blue’s sophisticated electronic surveillance network. They also used a fleet of small boats to determine the position of Blue’s ships without being detected. In the early days of the exercise, Red launched a massive salvo of cruise missiles, overwhelming the Blue forces’ electronic sensors, destroying sixteen warships.
The equivalent of this success in a real conflict would have resulted in the death of over 20,000 servicemen and servicewomen. Soon after that offensive, another significant portion of Blue’s navy was “sunk” by an armada of small Red boats carrying out both conventional and suicide attacks, able to engage Blue forces due to Blue’s inability to detect them as well as expected.
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My posts about a strike at Iran by Israel
Esp. note #2!
- Is Iran dangerous, or a paper tiger? (13 November 2007)
- Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran (22 December 2007)
- Does reading Debkafile make us smarter, or dumber? (15 June 2008)
- A new story about a possible war with Iran (21 May 2008) — About the 20 May Jerusalem Post story, originally reported by Army Radio.
- “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon” (3 June 2008) — About the Fischer story in the 30 May Daily Star.
- “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable” (8 June 2008) — War-talk by a former Defense Minster of Israel.
- Der Spiegel: “Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran” (17 June 2008) — Rumors in Der Spiegel of a strike by Israel on Iran.
- Leaks about a possible strike at Iran (are there any hotter issues today?) (7 July 2008)
Here is the full archive of my posts about a possible strike at Iran by Israel or the US.