Can and should Israel destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities?

It has been suggested that Israel should seriously consider destroying Iranian nuclear facilities, but Israeli officials obviously haven’t said, and won’t say, if, how or when she might.

Iran fenced in

Speaking to Arutz Sheva Friday, Professor Efraim Inbar, who heads the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said the deal had realized Israel’s worst fears by leaving Iran’s nuclear program essentially intact.

The Islamic Republic’s nuclear program has been granted “legitimacy” by the agreement, which still allowed it to continue enriching uranium and to maintain a reactor capable of producing enriched plutonium, he said. “And that’s what worries Israel, that they (Iran) will be able within a short time frame to reach a nuclear bomb.”

“I hold the view that the only way to stop Iran in its journey to a nuclear bomb is through military means,” Inbar maintained, suggesting that “Israel needs to seriously consider striking a number of important nuclear facilities” to head off the threat.

On March 28, former U.S. Ambassador Bolton said that it should be done.

The P5+1 nuclear “deal,” proudly announced by President Obama on April 2nd, is a sham. There is no “deal,” and public announcements by Iran and Obama cast it in very different lights. According to Iran, all sanctions will be lifted immediately when an agreement is reached on or before June 30th. According to Obama, sanctions relief will be gradual and based on Iran’s compliance with invasive inspections and other conditions. Even National Public Radio (NPR) has pointed out differences. NPR observed that, according to Iran,

all sanctions relief – U.N., EU and U.S. – would be immediate. It was unequivocal. It stated that Iran under the deal was free to pursue industrial scale enrichment to fuel its own reactors – unequivocal. It stated that Iran was unhindered in its ability to conduct centrifuge R&D.

Iran has also emphasized that its intention to destroy Israel is non-negotiable, and the Obama Administration has rejected any efforts to make Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist, on the ground that

“This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Friday night, according to Fox News. “This is an agreement that doesn’t deal with any other issues, nor should it.” [Emphasis added.]

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable.

Iran is very unlikely to retreat from its perception of the “deal,” Obama is very likely to retreat in Iran’s favor, and Israel is very unlikely to retreat from its perceptions about Iran, the “deal” or Israel’s right to exist.

What should Israel do?

In Martin Archer’s novel Islamic War, which I reviewed here, Israel dispatched elderly, large and substantially refurbished remove controlled aircraft, full of high explosives, from Somalia to half dozen nuclear facilities operated by hostile nations. They flew circuitous routes at varying altitudes to avoid detection until it was too late to stop them. Over a period of weeks, they crashed into and destroyed their targets, amid speculation about who had done it and why. Israel was not suspected. Would that have been possible then? Now? I don’t know.

It has been reported that Saudi Arabia has given Israel clearance to use her airspace for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Fox News reports that US Defense sources claim the Saudis are conducting tests on their air defense systems after giving Israel permission to to enter a narrow corridor to shorten the distance to attack Iran.

The testing would make sure that Saudi jets don’t get scrambled when Israel entered Saudi airspace. Once the IAF planes complete their mission and exit Saudi airspace, Saudi defenses would go back online again. [Emphasis added.]

Might Saudi Arabia, Egypt and perhaps other Gulf States go beyond not interfering with an Israeli attack to provide air support and other help? They seem to be as displeased with the “deal” as Israel is.

Assuming that Israel is not overly concerned about being identified as the attacker and is willing to act alone, she might:

Detonate one or more high-altitude atomic bombs to emit sufficient electromagnetic pulses (EMP) to fry all above-ground Iranian electronics. That would substantially disable Iranian above-ground command and control facilities as well as other communications, hence diminishing (but not eliminating) the possibility of counter-strikes by Iran and/or its proxies. Perhaps she has other, non-nuclear, means of generating EMPs; she hasn’t said.

Immediately thereafter, drop whatever suitable bombs she may have on all Iranian military and nuclear facilities. Does Israel have bunker-buster bombs? Probably not of U.S. manufacture, but that does not mean that she has not developed her own. It would be surprising if she had not.

Obama and other “leaders of the free world” would complain and the U.N. would emit fits of angry censures. However, that happens with great frequency in any event, and would be an insufficient reason for Israel to commit national suicide through inaction against Iran.

I am no “military expert” and would appreciate any comments on the suggestions I have made as well as any other suggestions anyone might care to offer.

 

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
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6 Responses to Can and should Israel destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities?

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  3. Tom Carter says:

    As one who can make at least a modest claim to being a “military expert,” I would say that there are at least three questions we need to think about:

    1. Could Israel, with or without some degree of support from other countries, sufficiently damage Iranian nuclear facilities and supporting infrastructure to at least significantly delay their development of deliverable nuclear weapons? Yes.

    2. Would the severe, violent attacks against Israel that would follow such an attack against Iran be worth it? No.

    3. Would such an Israeli attack against Iran make Iran more likely to negotiate limits and restrictions on their nuclear weapons development in the future? No.

    I think the only thing that will advance the goals of containing Iran and protecting Israel will be the replacement of Obama and his administration by a president who has very different goals and values. Another Democratic president might qualify; a Republican president most likely would. That’s assuming, of course, that the Republicans nominate a candidate who is moderate enough to attract large numbers of independents and some Democrats, while not losing that wedge of the Republican party that demands far-right ideological purity.

    Or not.

    • 1. Could Israel, with or without some degree of support from other countries, sufficiently damage Iranian nuclear facilities and supporting infrastructure to at least significantly delay their development of deliverable nuclear weapons? Yes.

      I agree. Israel would likely have help from Saudi Arabia and perhaps others.

      2. Would the severe, violent attacks against Israel that would follow such an attack against Iran be worth it? No.

      There would, indeed, be violent attacks against Israel. However, Iranian military forces in Iran would have a difficult time getting to Israel’s borders following a successful EMP attack. Even assembling them for that purpose would be difficult without functioning electronics. Significant attacks, at least initially, would likely be by Iran’s proxies directed at Gaza, Golan and the West bank.

      Egypt has of late been very helpful to Israel in Gaza, preventing shipments of Iranian weapons to Hamas and in other ways; there is a common interest in defeating Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, both backed by Iran. Egypt would very likely, as a minimum, fight to prevent Muslim Brotherhood militants and affiliates from entering Gaza through the Sinai. The Israeli Navy, not involved in an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, would be available to help to repel attacks on Gaza from the sea.

      Golan presents a different context. However, an Israeli attack on Iranian nuke facilities would involve few if any Israeli ground forces. Nor would it likely involve a substantial percentage of IAF aircraft and pilots, leaving them many available for duty elsewhere. Israel has an excellent army, with lots of tanks and other mechanized equipment including artillery. IDF reserves would likely be called to active duty just after an attack on Iran’s nuke facilities had begun; not before, because that would be announcement of Israel’s intentions vis a vis Iran. Israel is a small country with a large and competent reserve component which can be activated in a matter of hours, not days. Israel would certainly incur casualties. However, there would be far fewer than were Iran to nuke Israel.

      The West Bank also presents a different context. Jordan might, or might not, assist Israel. Perhaps she might do so to avoid a substantial influx of undesirable Palestinian refugees. Simply deploying Jordanian troops at the border would also help to dissuade Iranian proxies from attempting to enter Israel there.

      3. Would such an Israeli attack against Iran make Iran more likely to negotiate limits and restrictions on their nuclear weapons development in the future? No.

      I agree. However, that would not be the purpose.

      I think the only thing that will advance the goals of containing Iran and protecting Israel will be the replacement of Obama and his administration by a president who has very different goals and values. Another Democratic president might qualify; a Republican president most likely would. That’s assuming, of course, that the Republicans nominate a candidate who is moderate enough to attract large numbers of independents and some Democrats, while not losing that wedge of the Republican party that demands far-right ideological purity.

      January of 2017 is still twenty months distant. If, as seems likely, (a) Iran continues to adhere to its position that all sanctions must lifted as of June 30th of this year, that there be no “invasive” inspections and that its “possible” work on military uses of nukes continue to be ignored and (b) Obama yields, what will there be to negotiate in 2017? By then, Iran can and probably will have a substantial nuclear arsenal and the U.S. et al will have little if anything to offer Iran as inducements to negotiate or to relinquish anything.

      • Tom Carter says:

        I didn’t envision an Israeli EMP attack. That would be a very bad idea. First, it involves use of a nuclear weapon (at least one), and that kind of first-use would result in a worldwide negative reaction of the magnitude that Israel might not survive (at least politically). Second, the whole idea of EMP is rife with unknowns, including the exact results, particularly where hardened systems are concerned, and the spillover impacts on other countries. Finally, it virtually guarantees an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, whenever they can manage to make, beg, borrow, or steal a weapon. Talk about crying havoc and letting slip the dogs of war….

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