Monday, October 05, 2009

Israel Knows How To Handle Rogue Religious Zealots

Security and Defense: To attack or not to attack...?
Yaakov Katz - Oct 02, 2009
The Jerusalem Post

As the talks with Iran opened on Thursday, one of the main questions on all of the participants` minds was what the one key country not at the talks - Israel - would do. Would it accept a deal struck between the United States, Russia, the European Union and Iran allowing the Islamic Republic to advance with a supervised civilian nuclear program, or would it decide to strike?

An attack on Iran`s nuclear facilities is not a simple operation and cannot be compared to the two previous strikes Israel carried out against the Syrian reactor in 2007 and the Iraqi reactor in 1981. In those two cases, the reactors consisted of one main facility, above ground and without advanced air defenses.

The same cannot be said of Iran`s nuclear program. As discovered last week, the second uranium enrichment facility near Qom was dug inside a mountain with two tunnels for access. According to intelligence revelations, the facility contains 3,000 centrifuges - allegedly to enrich uranium to military levels - that would become operational by the middle of next year.

THIS NEW facility could be just the beginning. According to an article in Foreign Policy this week, the Qom facility is likely not the only nuclear installation that Iran has been hiding.


An analysis of an Israeli attack plan, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington earlier this year, claimed that a strike would focus on four main facilities - the Natanz enrichment facility, the Bushehr light-water nuclear power reactor, the Arak heavy water facility and the conversion plant in Esfahan. According to the report, Israel would likely have to use close to 100 fighter jets, as well as its entire fleet of aerial fuel tankers.

According to the research, the shortest route for Israel would be via the North, while straddling the Syrian-Turkish border and then the Turkish-Iraqi border all the way to Iran. An alternative could be what is called the central route - flying directly over Jordan and Iraq into Iran. Each route has its political and operational risks.

NEEDLESS TO say, Israel is very skeptical of the possibility that the talks in Geneva that began on Thursday will produce a positive outcome. The discovery of the facility near Qom is the third time Iran has been caught red-handed deceiving the world about the extent of its project.


Even if the dialogue fails, Israel will still need to wait to give the EU, Russia, the US and China the chance to impose tough sanctions on Iran, particularly in the energy sector and the supply of refined fuel, a measure believed to be capable of having a real effect on the regime. If the talks do fail, though, and the sanctions imposed are not tough, Israel will be left to decide what to do.

Alternatively the talks may succeed, and if the US reaches a deal under which the Islamic Republic is allowed to continue enriching uranium at low levels for energy purposes, Israel`s hands will be tied again.

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