Summary: this post examines yet another rumor of a strike at Iran by Israel. A successful raid might be beyond Israel’s capabilities, the consequences devastating for Israel, and perhaps even unnecessary. See links #6 and #17 at the end of this post. For these reasons I doubt Israel will attack Iran. But that is just a guess.
News from Reuters, 6 June 2008 — Mofaz has served as Israel’s Defense Minister and Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister. Excerpt:
On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Shaul Mofaz as saying an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks “unavoidable” given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential.
“If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective,” Mofaz said. “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable,” said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.
It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Olmert’s government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should UN Security Council sanctions be deemed a dead end.
Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, “would disappear before Israel.” “We believe the international community should be considering further tangible steps such as embargoing refined petroleum headed for Iran, sanctions against Iranian businessmen travelling abroad, tightening the pressure on Iranian financial institutions and other such steps,” he added.
Update: reactions to this from other lsraeli leaders appear at the end of this post.
Debkafile, where war always looms in the foggy but near future
For those who enjoy reading the output from skilled psy-ops experts, the Internet makes it easy to find. For those not careful where they get their information, they will learn that the Internet can make us dumber.
Then there is Debkafile (here is a brief Wikipedia entry). Whatever it is they do, nobody does it better. Let’s flip through their portfolio of warnings. These are in sequence, so their latest at at the end of the list (you cannot properly appreciate it without seeing what has come before). Here is an replay of their articles on this subject, which make these two ominous reports look somewhat less credible.
“Exclusive: Limited US attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases in sight“, Debkafile (3 June 2008) — Excerpt:
Our Washington sources report that president George W. Bush is closer than ever before to ordering a limited missile-air bombardment of the IRGC-al Qods Brigade’s installations in Iran. It is planned to target training camps and the munitions factories pumping fighters, missiles and roadside bombs to the Iraqi insurgency, Lebanese Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza.
“Exclusive: Flurry over possible Israeli attack on Iran galvanized by race to succeed Olmert“, Debkafile (6 June 2008) — Excerpt:
It is self-evident to every Israeli that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb would threaten the Jewish state’s existence and no government can afford to stand by and watch it happen. For Mofaz, who is campaigning to succeed Olmert as Kadima leader and next prime minister, a hawkish position on Iran has the best chance of garnering popular support.
This does not promise an attack on Iran is about to happen. So far, Olmert and Barak have been treading water on the Iran problem; they are even dragging their feet on the lingering Hamas missile offensive which is progressively depopulating southwestern Israel.
“Mofaz taken to task over Iran remark“, Jerusalem Post (7 June 2008) — Excerpt:
Israeli defense and diplomatic officials, as well as the head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, took Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz to task over the weekend for saying that Israel will attack Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons.
… Defense officials said Mofaz’s comments were harmful for Israel. “We need to stop Iran, but not to appear that we are leading the world efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear efforts,” one official said.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i released a statement Sunday saying that “the cynical use of Israel’s strategic matters for party politics is beyond the pale and very serious.” Vilna’i said it would be wise to remain silent and “leave matters of security to those taking care of them.”
Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, also chided Mofaz. “In every subject related to war, it’s preferable for ministers not to speak unless it has been decided on ahead of time in a careful and organized way,” he told Israel Radio.
… One government source, meanwhile, said that Mofaz’s comments must be seen within the context of the political jockeying inside Kadima to replace Olmert. According to this source, Mofaz is staking out a hawkish position on a number of issues because he feels this will resonate well with Kadima voters in his competition with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. In this same vein, the official said, Mofaz only last week came out against a withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of a peace deal with Syria.
The source said Mofaz’s comments on Iran were bound to cause confusion, since they came after Olmert made clear in Washington that he thought the diplomatic efforts against Iran still needed to be allowed to run their course.
Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, criticized Mofaz for his comments in an interview to be published Tuesday in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
“With unilateral military actions, countries are undermining international agreements, and we are at a historic turning point,” ELBaradei said, referring both to Mofaz’s statements and to Israel’s strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in September.
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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.
- 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.
- More rumors of a strike at Iran by Israel (1 July 2008)
- 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.