Israel & Iran


Israeli hawks circle Iran's N-plants
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
(Filed: 12/08/2005)

Ever since its 1979 Islamic revolution the only fate Iran has had in mind for Israel has been simple: its destruction. Now that Teheran seems to be moving towards acquiring its own nuclear arsenal, its plans for its great enemy threaten to be both fiery and radioactive.

Sometimes Iran's stated policy towards Israel is couched in inflammatory rhetoric, like that on a 40ft banner that used to hang outside the entrance of the foreign ministry in Teheran bearing the message: "Israel Must Burn".

Click to enlarge
Sometimes the language is tamer, such as the "Down With Israel" chants of students who march after Friday prayers in Teheran week in, week out.

But whatever the tone, the message remains the same. The Jewish state has survived wars, internal upheaval, intifadas and bloody entanglements in the internal affairs of its neighbours. But now a major enemy, one committed to its annihilation, appears close to deploying the most destructive force known to Man.

"Having the ayatollah regime armed with nuclear weapons is an existential threat to the state of Israel," Mark Regev, senior spokeman at its foreign ministry, admitted grimly. "We take the issue extremely seriously.''

But while the danger Israel faces is clear, what it should do about the threat poses much more of a quandary.

Some Israelis cite the precedent of the 1981 unilateral Israeli airstrike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. Israel, they argue, should do the same again and launch pre-emptive military attacks on Iran's growing nuclear infrastructure.

But Iran has developed its nuclear programme with such a scenario in mind. It has deliberately spread its facilities far and wide, using nine locations, according to one intelligence source.

And each facility is buried under tons of reinforced concrete, making it more difficult to destroy, even with the help of the BLU-109 "bunker-buster" bombs the US is selling its closest Middle Eastern ally.

Iran, moreover, is further away from Israel than Iraq, raising even greater doubts about the ability of the F15 and F16 planes Israel would use in any air raids to reach their target and then make it home without being refuelled.
How long before Arik surfaces?

Don't forgot the Popeye SLCMs.
Ah we're OK Herr Schroeder has just warned Georgei boy off.

Saturday, 13 August 2005, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK

Germany attacks US on Iran threat

Iran restarted nuclear research this week
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has warned the US to back away from the possibility of military action against Iran over its nuclear programme.
Must be an election in Germany. Its situations like this that make me wish for some good old German militarism instead of this touchy feely Euro appeasement.
As much as I'd hate to see it (purely for the reason that I'd feel sorry for our guys in the sand having to wear noddy suits all of the time), it would be unfeasibly stupid for Iran to threaten Israel with a nuclear attack.

Second generation (at best) nukes on Irans side, medium capability delivery systems and several billion dollars worth of anti aircraft and anti missile defences against them whereas their adversary probably (read definitely, whether admitted by the US suppliers or not) has latest generation top yield warheads with state of the art delivery systems that would only be combated by a guy called Achmed on a camel with a catapult.

Worst (or best, depends on your slant) scenario, mohammed lobs a Three Mile Island at Israel, David lobs WW2 x 1000 at Iran
Iran 'kept EU talking' while it finished nuclear plant
By Colin Freeman
(Filed: 14/08/2005)

An Iranian foreign policy official has boasted that the regime bought extra time over its stalled negotiations with Europe to complete a uranium conversion plant.

In comments that will infuriate EU diplomats, Hosein Musavian said that Teheran took advantage of the nine months of talks, which collapsed last week, to finish work at its Isfahan enrichment facility.



Doesn't matter what any of us think, Iran cannot be allowed to reach the stage where it has the capability of attacking anyone.


Aunty Stella said:
Just park HMS Vanguard off the coast for a while conducting "exercises"

I wonder if they only get 90 quid for an ND?
I think this is a job for Storm Shadow and his mate TLAM from a T-boat.
tomahawk6 said:
You need a weapon that can strike deep, very deep.
Anyone read the Atlantic War Game story in December's issue?
They seemed to think that the Israelis were bluffing and did not have the means to launch the complex opertaion needed to strike at Iran. The strategists also felt that an American military operation though would be rather difficult.
No article link as subscribtion is required :(

Summarised extracts follow as the article is too long for posting - If any one wants to read the full war game just PM me.

In June the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran had not been forthcoming about the extent of its nuclear programs. In August the Iranian Defense Minister warned that if Iran suspected a foreign power—specifically the United States or Israel—of preparing to strike its emerging nuclear facilities, it might launch a pre-emptive strike of its own, of which one target could be the U.S. forces next door in Iraq. Also, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected a proposal by Senator John Kerry that if the United States promised to supply all the nuclear fuel Iran needed for peaceful power-generating purposes, Iran would stop developing enrichment facilities (which could also help it build weapons). Meanwhile, the government of Israel kept sending subtle and not-so-subtle warnings that if Iran went too far with its plans, Israel would act first to protect itself, as it had in 1981 by bombing the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak.
Preoccupied as they were with Iraq (and with refighting Vietnam), the presidential candidates did not spend much time on Iran. The decisions that a President will have to make about Iran are like those that involve Iraq—but harder. In Iran's case, however, the governmental hostility to the United States is longer-standing (the United States implicitly backed Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s), the ties to terrorist groups are clearer, and the evidence of an ongoing nuclear-weapons program is stronger. Iran is bigger, more powerful, and richer than Iraq, and it enjoys more international legitimacy than Iraq ever did under Saddam Hussein. Most American experts believe that if it wanted to, Iran could incite Iraqi Shiites to join the insurgency in far greater numbers.
As a preview of the problems Iran will pose for the next American President, and of the ways in which that President might respond, The Atlantic conducted a war game this fall, simulating preparations for a U.S. assault on Iran.
"War game" is a catchall term used by the military to cover a wide range of exercises. The point of a war game is to learn from simulated mistakes in order to avoid making them if conflict actually occurs.
It took place in one room, it ran for three hours, and it dealt strictly with how an American President might respond, militarily or otherwise, to Iran's rapid progress toward developing nuclear weapons. For more than two decades he has conducted war games at the National War College and many other military institutions. For the purposes of the simulation Iran is assumed to have defied the deadline. Pollack was a CIA Iran-Iraq analyst for seven years, and later served as the National Security Council's director for Persian Gulf affairs during the last two years of the Clinton Administration. (Last January, in this magazine, Pollack examined how pre-war intelligence had gone wrong.) Finally, the Secretary of Defense was Michael Mazarr, a professor of national-security strategy at the National War College, who has written about preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, among other countries, and has collaborated with Gardiner on previous war games.

This war game was loose about requiring players to stay "in role." For instance, as the general in charge of Central Command (CENTCOM)—the equivalent of Tommy Franks before the Iraq War and John Abizaid now—he explained detailed military plans.
One was whether the United States could tolerate Iran's emergence as a nuclear power. That is, should Iran be likened to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, in whose possession nuclear weapons would pose an unacceptable threat, or to Pakistan, India, or even North Korea, whose nuclear ambitions the United States regrets but has decided to live with for now? Gardiner also chose to avoid posing directly the main question the game was supposed to illuminate: whether and when the United States should seriously consider military action against Iran. So in order to force discussion about what, exactly, a military "solution" would mean, Gardiner structured the game to determine how the panel assessed evidence of the threat from Iran; whether it was willing to recommend steps that would keep the option of military action open, and what that action might look like; and how it would make the case for a potential military strike to an audience in the United States and around the world.
The detailed plans for an assault on Iran had also been carefully devised. "As DCI, I've got to talk about uncertainty," Gardiner began—the way future intelligence officers presumably will after the Iraq-WMD experience, when George Tenet, as CIA director, claimed that the case for Iraq's having weapons was a "slam-dunk." The [intelligence] community believes that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in three years." "We should assume Iran will move as fast as possible," he said several times. Gardiner illustrated with a slide (figure 1).
"Here's the intelligence dilemma," Gardiner said. "We are facing a future in which this is probably Iran's primary national priority. Hazy knowledge about Iran's nuclear progress doesn't dictate assuming the worst, Gardiner said. Then the threat assessment moved to two wild-card factors: Iran's current involvement in Iraq, and Israel's potential involvement with Iran. Both complicate and constrain the options open to the United States, Gardiner said. Iran's influence on the Shiite areas of Iraq is broad, deep, and obviously based on a vastly greater knowledge of the people and customs than the United States can bring to bear. When Menachem Begin dispatched Israeli fighter planes to destroy Iraq's Osirak plant, he knew there was only one target, and that if it was eliminated, Iraq's nuclear program would be set back for many years. Figure 2 shows the known targets that might be involved in some way in Iran's nuclear program. "It's hard to fault them for making this threat," said Pollack, as the Democratic Secretary of State, "because in the absence of Israeli pressure how seriously would the United States be considering this option? Woven in and out of this discussion was a parallel consideration of Iraq: whether, and how, Iran might undermine America's interests there or target its troops. "We have an enormous commitment to Iraq, and we can't afford to allow Iraq to fail," he said. Provoking Iran in any way, therefore, could mean even fewer troops to handle Iraq—and even worse problems for them to deal with.
Kay agreed. "They may decide that a bloody defeat for the United States, even if it means chaos in Iraq, is something they actually would prefer. Secretary of State Gerecht thought a successful attack was probably beyond Israel's technical capability, but that the United States should not publicly criticize or disagree with its best ally in the Middle East.
Sam Gardiner took the podium again. Now he was four-star General Gardiner, commander of CENTCOM. The President wanted to understand the options he actually had for a military approach to Iran. The general and his staff had prepared plans for three escalating levels of involvement: a punitive raid against key Revolutionary Guard units, to retaliate for Iranian actions elsewhere, most likely in Iraq; a pre-emptive air strike on possible nuclear facilities; and a "regime change" operation, involving the forcible removal of the mullahs' government in Tehran. In the real world the second option—a pre-emptive air strike against Iranian nuclear sites—is the one most often discussed. Gardiner said that in his briefing as war-game leader he would present versions of all three plans based as closely as possible on current military thinking. The first option was straightforward and, according to Gardiner, low-risk. Gardiner mentioned them because they would be a necessary first step in laying the groundwork for the ultimate scenario of forced regime change, and because they would offer the United States a "measured" retaliatory option if Iran were proved to be encouraging disorder in Iraq.

The general's staff had identified 300 "aim points" in Iran. The rest were part of Iran's air-defense or command system. "I call this a low-risk option also," Gardiner said, speaking for CENTCOM. I mean it's a low-risk military option." Gardiner called this plan "moderate risk," but said the best judgment of the military was that it would succeed. "I don't think the President had seen many charts like that before," he added, referring to President Bush as he reviewed war plans for Iraq.)
Gardiner presented more-detailed possibilities for the deployment. "We want to take out of this operation what has caused us problems in Iraq," Gardiner of CENTCOM said, referring to the postwar morass. We have no intention of getting bogged down in stability operations in Iran afterwards. How could the military dare suggest such a plan, after the disastrous consequences of ignoring "stability" responsibilities in Iraq? Even now, Gardiner said after the war game, the military sees post-conflict operations as peripheral to its duties. As CENTCOM commander, Gardiner cautioned that any of the measures against Iran would carry strategic risks. Tampa, of course, is the headquarters for CENTCOM units operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The military countermoves—not the political ones you offloaded to my Secretaries of State but the obvious military countermoves that the Iranians have? A very easy military counter is to raise the cost of your military operation inside Iraq. If it launched an attack and removed some unknown proportion of the facilities, the United States might retard Iran's progress by an unknown number of months or years—at the cost of inviting all-out Iranian retaliation. "Pre-emption is only a tactic that puts off the nuclear development," Gardiner said after the exercise. A pre-emptive strike would carry low military risk but high strategic risk."
During the war game the regime-change plan got five nays. How could the President effectively negotiate with the Iranians if his own advisers concluded that he had no good military option to use as a threat? t noon the war game ended. Iraq was a foreground topic throughout the game, since it was where a threatened Iran might most easily retaliate. Every aspect of discussion about Iran was colored by knowledge of how similar decisions had played out in Iraq. What the United States knew and didn't know about secret weapons projects. What could go wrong with its military plans. "Compared with Iraq, Iran has three times the population, four times the land area, and five times the problems," Kenneth Pollack said during the war game. We just don't have the forces to do that in Iran. In an attempt to avoid "another Iraq," in Iran or elsewhere, a different Administration would no doubt make new mistakes. "We never 'red-celled' the enemy in this exercise" (that is, let him have the first move), Hammes said after the Iran war game. "What if they try to pre-empt us? and what did the exercise show about Iran? About Iran's intentions there is no disagreement. Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and unless its policy is changed by the incentives it is offered or the warnings it receives, it will succeed.
About America's military options there is almost as clear a view. In circumstances of all-out war the United States could mount an invasion of Iran if it had to. If sufficiently provoked—by evidence that Iran was involved in a terrorist incident, for example, or that it was fomenting violence in Iraq—the United States could probably be effective with a punitive bomb-and-missile attack on Revolutionary Guard units.

But for the purposes most likely to interest the next American President—that is, as a tool to slow or stop Iran's progress toward nuclear weaponry—the available military options are likely to fail in the long term. The obvious ones are that the United States lacks enough manpower and equipment to take on Iran while still tied down in Iraq, and that domestic and international objections would be enormous. Unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a threatened Iran would have many ways to harm America and its interests. Apart from cross-border disruptions in Iraq, it might form an outright alliance with al-Qaeda to support major new attacks within the United States. The problem is that Iran's nuclear program is now much more advanced than Iraq's was at the time of the raid. It would prefer that Iran never obtain nuclear weapons. The United States would prefer, of course, that Iran not reach a new level of power with a vendetta against America. One of our panelists thought that a strike would help the United States, simply by buying time. "If you say there is no acceptable military option, then you end any possibility that there will be a non-nuclear Iran," David Kay said after the war game. Is it therefore irresponsible to say in public, as our participants did and we do here, that the United States has no military solution to the Iran problem? Iran could not be sure that an American President, seeing what he considered to be clear provocation, would not strike. "You have no military solution for the issues of Iran.
tomahawk6 said:
There is always a military option - if you are prepared for the public relations/political aspects of such a course of action.
...or the evironmental consequences. Remember Chernobyl?

A non-nuclear response has less downside than a nuclear response [nuclear bunker buster not funded].
Not sure what you're talking about here, but here's another side to the RNEP debate:

The short version-
1. No engineer has a clue how to build a warhead that could survive a supersonic impact with the Earth.
2. The fallout would be horrendous.
A few things:

Bombing nuclear facilities creates fallout. Using nukes creates even more fallout. Said fallout falls on Iran (and neighbours). World sees tearful families mourning children lost to cancer and blames the US (and if you think otherwise your head is either up your arrse or you watch Fox News a lot). US loses moral advantage and hence allies start to drift away. Feel like taking the whole world on ? It's come a step closer.

Air power is very bad at engaging dispersed hidden military hardware - as the Serbs proved. Bombing installations (mil, civil or joint) will kill civilians. The Iraqis are highly unlikely to find this acceptable.

Iran may not sit there and take it. If they ship large numbers of light inf into Iraqi cities or use naval swarm attacks against warships things would get ugly. Don't forget that the Iraqi army was not prepared to die for Saddam. The Iranian Army would be prepared to die to defend Iran. If they think outside the box they might even try to pre-empt the US or do something unexpected - the phrase "independent will of the enemy" is one to remember here.

Frankly the plans discussed sound like a Tom Clancy weapons porn techno-thriller - not a war plan thought up by grown-ups.

Oh, and getting UK forces in Iraq tied up in something that will be even less popular than Iraq with probably higher casualties will give the "special relationship" an overload test.

Iran has options if they want to pay a price as do we. They can step up their current activities in Iraq. They can wage open war against US forces. We can strike nuclear facilities and their oil facilities. Certainly striking Iran has alot of unknown variables, but so does allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons. With their terrorist connections I can see nuclear weapons in the hands of our enemies and nuclear proliferation. If Iran has the bomb, the Saudis will want a nuclear capability. I see the potential for alot of sleepless nights down the road.


Book Reviewer
tomahawk6 said:

Iran has options if they want to pay a price as do we. They can step up their current activities in Iraq. They can wage open war against US forces. We can strike nuclear facilities and their oil facilities. Certainly striking Iran has alot of unknown variables, but so does allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons. .

Oh dear....

Pakistan has the Bomb. As does Israel. As does China - who now own the vast majority of US foreign debt. Gonna bomb Qingdao next ?

Pakistan is an Islamic state.

Pakistan has an open land border with Iran.

One of the uknown variables involved in striking Iran ( on behalf of Israel) is the potential for them to return the favour in CONUS, using equally appalling weapons. Human nature says

<< you bash me, I bash back >>

I've just signed the petition on behalf of Rick Rescorla in Multinational - what do you think his view would have been ?

The US is already in enough of a hole in the Middle East and can only barely sustain 130,000 boots on the ground there - why are you folk so keen to talk up another war ?

T6 - get yourself out of the five sided puzzle palace and do some time in Balad or Haditha or Amarah. Then come back to us in 6 months extolling the virtues of closer US engagement ......

Lee Shaver

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