We have all read and heard about the Iranian nuclear program and its possible capability to produce nuclear weapons; about the diplomatic, economic, and other ongoing efforts to get Iran to come clean on its nuclear weapons intentions; and about the threat such a capability would pose to Israel and to world peace.
We have also seen reports about the possibility of an Israeli preemptive strike against such Iranian nuclear facilities and capabilities.
But until a few days ago, I had not dreamt of seeing in the public domain, detailed strategic and operational “plans” for various Israeli military options to take out the Iranian threat, both by IDF aircraft and by an Israeli ballistic missile attack.
Plans that include detailed mission analyses, mission weapons payloads, strike force requirements, mission route profiles, optimum routes, specific weapons capabilities and effects, and even how the Iranian ground and airborne defenses will react to such attacks.
Also, detailed maps showing locations of Israeli and Iranian nuclear facilities, military and missile bases and sites, and (estimated) numbers and types of weapons—including nuclear—and aircraft and missiles orders of battle.
Finally, assessments of consequent environmental damages as a result of such a strike; of how the Israeli air defense and ballistic missile defense systems would perform against an Iranian retaliatory attack.
And, let’s not forget the inevitable military and political consequences of such an attack.
What is the time frame for such an attack?
The Israeli time frame as to when Iran will have a Nuclear Weapon is between 2009 and 2012, whereas the U.S. time frame is after 2013. Israel states that Iran should not be allowed to obtain any nuclear capabilities that could eventually allow it to produce nuclear weapons. Israel views Iran as an Existential Threat and must be dealt with in the immediate future.
In my military days, such plans would have been classified “TOP SECRET” at the very least.
Surprisingly, the data for the study comes, according to the authors of the “plans,” from open sources.
All such data, including the time frame above, and much more, are included in superb detail, accuracy and realism in a study recently released by the reputable Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The Center provides strategic insights and policy solutions to decision makers in government, international institutions, the private sector, and civil society. A bipartisan, nonprofit organization CSIS has been conducting research and analysis and developing policy initiatives that look into the future and anticipate change, and has grown to become one of the world’s preeminent international policy institutions.
So we are not talking pulp fiction here.
The report, titled “Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities,” was published a week ago, and I am surprised that it has not received more publicity.
I was so amazed at the details, and the (expected) accuracy of both Israel’s and Iran’s military capabilities—including a discussion of Israel’s “nuclear policy”, or rather its “nuclear ambiguity”—that I felt compelled to first ask permission from CSIS to quote and use their material.
Permission was granted. My thanks to Mr. Anthony H. Cordesman, who is the “Expert” on the study and who holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS. He is also a national security analyst for ABC News and I am sure most readers have seen him on ABC providing superb analysis on and during the Gulf War, Desert Fox, the conflict in Kosovo, the fighting in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
The 114-page report is replete with eye-opening information on a subject that has so often been “taboo” for public discussion, but also on a subject of tremendous importance to Israel, the Middle East and the world.
The consequences of any miscalculations could be catastrophic.
Here are some of the possible consequences, as contained in the conclusion to the CSIS study:
Iranian response against Israel
• Immediate retaliation using its ballistic missiles on Israel. Multiple launches of Shahab-3 including the possibility of CBR warheads against Tel Aviv, Israeli military and civilian centers, and Israeli suspected nuclear weapons sites.
• Using proxy groups such as Hezbollah or Hamas to attack Israel proper with suicide bombings, covert CBR attacks, and rocket attacks from southern Lebanon.
• Give rise to regional instability and conflict as well as terrorism.
• Destabilizing Iraq through the Shia against US occupation, further arming insurgency groups when possible.
• Support and upgrade Taliban capabilities in Afghanistan.
• Increase the threat of asymmetric attacks against American interests and allies in the region, especially against countries that host the US military such as Qatar and Bahrain.
• Target U.S. and Western shipping in the Gulf, and possibly attempt to interrupt the flow of oil through the Gulf.
And this is one of the introductory paragraphs of the report:
The U.S. will have to try to make Comprehensive Verification of Iran‘s Nuclear Development Program as one of the priorities in any diplomatic dialogue, while trying at the same time to persuade Iran to stop its enrichment program.
However, in this area the U.S. will have to walk and negotiate along a very fine line between Israel‘s WMD and Ballistic Missiles capabilities and the Iranian Nuclear development program. The U.S. must recognize that both are very closely inter-related and are fueling each other. So the U.S. should be prepared to address both issues simultaneously while trying not to be perceived as though it has double standards when it comes to Israel.
Let us hope that the U.S. indeed can “walk and negotiate along a very fine line”
The entire report can be read here. It is a must read.
Image: Courtesy www.globalsecurity.org
Addendum: The other author of the study, in addition to Cordesman, is Abdullah Toukan, Senior Associate. My apologies
Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice