Dan Williams / Reuters & Mike Blair / American Free Press – 2006-09-25 23:05:10
Israel Seen Lifting Nuclear Veil in Iran Stand-off
Dan Williams / Reuters
TEL AVIV (September 25, 2006) — In October 1973, with its forces battling to repel invasions by Egypt and Syria, Israel did what had previously been unthinkable: It briefly wheeled its nuclear-capable Jericho-1 missiles out of their secret silos.
That, historians believe, was picked up by US spy satellites and stirred up fears in Washington of a catastrophic flare-up between the Jewish state and the Soviet-backed Arabs. Message received, an urgent American shipment of conventional arms to Israel was quick to follow, and helped turn the war.
With Israel’s current arch-foe Iran seen gaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons within a few years, and preventive military options limited, some experts now anticipate another “lifting of the veil” on the assumed Israeli atomic arsenal.
Were that to happen, experts say, the objective would be to establish a more open military deterrence vis-a-vis Iran and perhaps win Israel’s nuclear option formal legitimacy abroad.
“No one should simply assume that Israel would stay where it is now with its ambiguous capability if Iran becomes a nuclear power,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg, head of the Conflict Management Programme at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv.
“Israeli policy is likely to change, in order to demonstrate that the country has continued strategic superiority,” he said.
Israel neither confirms nor denies it has the Middle East’s only nuclear weapons, under an “ambiguity” policy billed as warding off enemy states while avoiding a regional arms race.
Steinberg said this might be abandoned only as a last resort to persuade a nuclear-armed Iran that it stood to suffer far greater devastation in any full-blown future conflict.
“It’s not desirable, but this is about survival,” he said.
Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, says its nuclear programme is for energy needs alone. But calls by its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel to be “wiped off the map” have fuelled Western calls for the programme to be curbed.
MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION?
Talk of a nuclear stand-off between Israel and Iran has sparked comparisons with the “mutually assured destruction” formula that reigned during the Cold War and, more recently, between India and Pakistan.
But those precedents assume a parity that may not exist with Israel and Iran. Militarily advanced Israel is geographically small and vulnerable. Iran’s atomic ambitions are at fledgling stage but its large size could help it survive a major strike.
“The use of a nuclear bomb against Israel would completely destroy Israel, while (the same) against the Islamic world would only cause damage. Such a scenario is not inconceivable,” former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in a 2001 speech.
There is also speculation that Ahmadinejad might welcome an apocalyptic confrontation, meaning the idea of a deterrent would not work. Yet he answers to Iranian clerics who work by committee and thus provide a rational set of safeguards.
Reuven Pedatzur, defence analyst for the respected Israeli daily Haaretz, proposed that the country, under US guidance, go public with its nuclear capability in the hope of building back-channel ties with Iran and establishing mutual deterrence.
“Israel cannot continue to rely on it (ambiguity policy) if Iran has nuclear weapons. This is because ambiguity leaves too many grey areas. The enemy cannot know with certainty what the red lines are and when he is risking an Israeli nuclear response,” he wrote.
“There must be a deterrent policy that will leave no room for misunderstandings,” he added. “Thus, for example, we would make it clear that the identification of any missile launched from Iran in a westerly direction means, as far as we are concerned, the launch of an Iranian nuclear missile at us.”
Declaring capabilities is one way for a nation to becomes an official nuclear power. The other is a controlled atomic blast.
“If the Israelis really have any doubt about the credibility of their deterrence, they could conduct a nuclear test, say, in the Negev desert,” said Gary Samore, a former adviser on nuclear non-proliferation in the US National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.
But he said the diplomatic fall-out of such a move would draw scrutiny away from Tehran and further alienate those Arab nations willing to endorse Western pressure on the Iranians.
“It would be a godsend for Iran,” Samore said.
NPT IN QUESTION
Israel did not sign the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It thus kept its main nuclear facility, outside the desert town of Dimona, exempt from inspection. It has received billions of dollars in aid from Washington, whose laws ban funding states with unregulated non-conventional arsenals.
A nuclear weapons test by Israel would effectively blow away that US blind eye. Iran, in turn, could withdraw from the NPT and argue that it should not be subjected to sanctions. After that, other Middle East states would likely seek atomic arms.
Avner Cohen, author of the seminal study “Israel and the Bomb”, has suggested that Israel seek to form a new nuclear pact along with India and Pakistan, which refuse to join the NPT.
“Such a protocol might permit them to retain their atomic programmes, but inhibit further development. It could also require cooperation with international nuclear export controls, prohibit explosive testing of nuclear devices, and call for the phased elimination of fissile material production,” Cohen said.
Iran would not be able to join such a pact, he added, as it has violated the NPT by pursuing unauthorised nuclear projects.
Cohen poured cold water on the idea of Israel seeking mutual deterrence with a nuclear-armed Iran, noting that during the Cold War parity was achieved only after Washington and Moscow scraped through two crises — over the 1948 Western airlift to Berlin and the 1962 deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
“The sense of stability associated with mutually assured destruction grew out of a learning curve,” he said. “Israel had its learning through crisis, especially the 1973 war. Do we have time for the Iranians to learn? Will they learn?”
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. www.globalresearch.ca
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Israel Pushing US to Bomb Iran
Israelis Say They Will Attack if America, UK Refuse to Act
Mike Blair / American Free Press.net
(Issue #38 & 39, September 18 & 25, 2006)
(September 24, 2006) — The Bush administration and the British government are under increasing pressure from the Israelis to conduct an illegal air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to a number of reports in Europe’s largest newspapers.
In London, The Sunday Telegraph and the daily Telegraph have reported that war clouds are spreading as Iran continues its nuclear development and Israel reacts to it.
According to The Sunday Telegraph Israel has appointed Maj. Gen. Elyezer Shkedy, commander of the Israeli air force, to direct military action against Tehran. Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that Britain is holding secret talks “at which senior defense chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.”
The Pentagon is also drawing up plans for an attack. US military ground forces are already bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in dozens of other deployments abroad.
Still, irresponsible air strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites, which would inevitably result in massive, insoluble geopolitical, military, energy and economic problems, are planned by Bush administration numbskulls.
Israel, as usual, is counting on US backing—and it is making it obvious that if there is no strike on Iran it will act on its own.
In a recent visit to the United States, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned “friend and foe alike” that Israel is prepared to “take on any country or combination of countries” to protect itself.
The Israelis refer to the “Iran Front,” The Sunday Telegraph reports. “Israel is becoming extremely concerned now with what they see as Iran’s delaying tactics,” an Israeli-Iran analyst told the newspaper. “The [Israeli] planners think negotiations are going nowhere, and Iran is becoming a major danger for Israel. Now they are getting ready for living with a nuclear Iran or letting the military take care of it.”
According to the British publication “Gen. Shkedy will coordinate the intelligence gathered by Israel’s foreign spy agency Mossad and military sources, in order to draw up battle plans. . . . He will command the campaign from a ‘hot seat’ in the Israeli army’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.”
Uri Dromi, a former air force colonel and analyst, told The Sunday Telegraph: “It’s natural that Shkedy is nominated in this role, because the air force is Israel’s only force that can reach and sustain a military operation against Iran. . . .Everyone is playing with dates and time frames . . . but the list of options is becoming shorter. I think we have one year open [to launch military action].”
Israel reportedly has an arsenal of at least 200 nuclear warheads and as many as 400.
The Telegraph reported wishfully:
[It is] believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is ‘inevitable’ if Tehran’s leaders fail to comply with United Nations’ demands to freeze their uranium enrichment program..
Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from US Navy ships and submarines in the gulf would, it is believed, target Iran’s air defense systems at the nuclear installations.
That would enable attacks by B2 Stealth bombers equipped with eight 4,500-pound enhanced BLU-28 satellite-guided bunker busting bombs, flying from Diego Garcia, the isolated US Navy base in the Indian Ocean, RAF [Royal Air Force] base Fairford in Gloucestershire and Whiteman USAF base in Missouri.
It is understood that any direct British involvement in an attack would be limited but may extend to the use of the RAF’s highly secret airborne warning aircraft. The belief in some areas of Whitehall is that an attack is now all but inevitable.
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