Calculating Iran

It is something of a relief to see that the US is finally starting to realize that something must be done about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Real sanctions are finally taking a bite out of the Iranian regime. And, given enough time those sanctions might provide the necessary results – the fall of the Iranian theocracy.

The question is whether we have enough time to let sanctions work.

The US says ‘yes’.

Israel says ‘no’.

Who do you think has a better track record in running these kinds of calculations?



Is the knowledge that the US always gets it wrong while Israel tends to get it right make any difference to the Obama administration?

Of course not.

So, Israel is stuck with a brutal calculation. If Iranian nuclear weapons production is still vulnerable to conventional weapons, do they attack now and start another devastating Middle East war?

And, get blamed for the resulting economic devastation that will sweep the globe because of it?

Or, do they sit tight and let the Iranian nuclear weapons program become invulnerable to anything other than nuclear weapons – knowing that they might have to be the ones to pull the trigger on the use of such insane devices of mass destruction?

Well, a month ago, the Iranians claimed that their underground Uranium enrichment facility at Fordo (100 miles south of Tehran) was already up and running and invulnerable to conventional attack.

If true, that means that a suicide mission led by a brigade of Israeli special forces MIGHT work… but, then you’d have to live with having sent so many bright young men to their deaths – and HOPE that their sacrifice was enough. Furthermore, Israel doesn’t have a history of doing suicide missions. In fact, the Israeli government is on record as never authorizing a mission that didn’t have a greater than 25% chance of survival. Israel still might do it, but it seems unlikely – for now.

That leaves nuclear weapons, and that’s something that Israel won’t use unless all other options have failed.

Israel came within hours of using nuclear weapons in 1973, and would have used them if they had been unsuccessful in bridging the Suez Canal by October 18th, during the Battle of Chinese Farm.

So, Israel has proven itself to be willing to use nuclear weapons, but only when all other options have failed.

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ sprinkled about in the above paragraphs, but it does seem to me that the US is left as the holder of the next-to-last option short of nuclear war.

U.S. and Israel Split on Speed of Iran Threat
By Mark Landler and David E. Sanger
February 8, 2012, The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Amid mounting tensions over whether Israel will carry out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and Israel remain at odds over a fundamental question: whether Iran’s crucial nuclear facilities are about to become impregnable.

Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, coined the phrase “zone of immunity” to define the circumstances under which Israel would judge it could no longer hold off from an attack because Iran’s effort to produce a bomb would be invulnerable to any strike. But judging when that moment will arrive has set off an intense debate with the Obama administration, whose officials counter that there are other ways to make Iran vulnerable.

Senior Israeli officials, including the foreign minister and leader of the Mossad, have traveled to Washington in recent weeks to make the case that this point is fast approaching. American officials have made reciprocal visits to Jerusalem, arguing that Israel and the West have more time and should allow sanctions and covert actions to deter Iran’s plans.

The Americans have also used the discussions to test their belief, based on a series of public statements by Israeli officials, that an Israeli strike against Iran could come as early as spring, according to an official familiar with the discussions.

President Obama tried to defuse arguments for military action in a telephone call last month with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the substance of which was confirmed by an Obama administration official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to describe the conversation. While the two men have had an often contentious relationship over Middle East diplomacy, American officials emerged from that exchange persuaded that Mr. Netanyahu was willing to give economic sanctions and other steps time to work.

Read the rest of the article, here.