Mar 8, 2006

Israel Vows To Take Out Iranian Nukes If UN Fails


Left: Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz; photo courtesy of Digital

(Berlin) Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz his country is prepared to act if the United Nations cannot achieve progress on the Iranian nuclear program.

"My answer to this question is that the state of Israel has the right give all the security that is needed to the people in Israel. We have to defend ourselves," Mofaz said to reporters after a conference with German defense minister Franz Josef Jung. "Everything must be done to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons."

The comments by Mofaz set the stage for a repeat of the 1981 bombing by Israel ofIraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, a preemptive act that set the Iraqi nuclear program back at least a decade.

Iraqi nuclear scientists asscoiated with the project, however, claim that Israel's attack only made Sadaam Hussein more determined to obtain nuclear weapons. Khidir Hamza, one of the leaders of the project, was interviewed by Mike Begala on CNN's Crossfire in 2003:

What Israel [did] is that it got out the immediate danger out of the way. But it created a much larger danger in the longer range. What happened is that Saddam ordered us — we were 400...scientists and technologists running the program. And when they bombed that reactor out, we had also invested $400 million. And the French reactor and the associated plans were from Italy. When they bombed it out we became 7,000 with a $10 billion investment for a secret, much larger underground program to make bomb material by enriching uranium. We dropped the reactor out totally, which was the plutonium for making nuclear weapons, and went directly into enriching uranium… They [Israel] estimated we'd make 7 kg of plutonium a year, which is enough for one bomb. And they get scared and bombed it out. Actually it was much less than this, and it would have taken a much longer time. But the program we built later in secret would make six bombs a year.
Iran insists that its aims are the peaceful development of electricity. Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened retaliation if Israel or the United States were to bomb any of its nuclear facilities.

Today Iran threatened the US with "harm and pain" for its role in bringing the country before the UN Security Council over the nuclear program.

"The United States has the power to cause harm and pain," read a statement from Iranian diplomats. "But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the US wishes to choose, let the ball roll."

Analysts believe the statement reflects an Iranian strategy to reduce production as a way to punish the US. Iran is the second-largest petroleum producer in OPEC.


Anonymous said...

That nuke plant will be destroyed one way or another. And when it does we have the start of WWIII.

historymike said...

I don't know about WWII, anonymous, but I would bet that it might be a trigger to a wider Middle East war.

Andrew of Arabia said...

I would have to say that Israel bombing Iranian nuclear facilities would probably not lead to war because of a couple of reasons. First, no matter what Israel does, there is no way that their Middle Eastern neighbours could hate them more. The arab states would therefore not attack out of hate, because they already hate them as much as is humanly possible. Next, they wouldn't want to risk another "catastrophe" along the lines of '67 and '72 where the most powerful arab states tag-teamed israel (with the help of the Soviet Union) and were still beaten back. Israel is the most powerful state in the region and an attack on an unstable theocratic Shi'ite (ahmadinejad) will not resonate in a world of predominantly secular, culturally sunni, despots. We can be sure they would use the event to rile their public up in order to gloss over the true nature of their oppressive regimes, but nothing will come of it. But what do I know ...

M A F said...

Funny, Israel threaten Iran and the world applauds. Iran threatens Israel and the world goes into convulsions. And the Bush administration wonders why "they hate us."

Of course, Israel cannot afford to attack Iran as it did Iraq back in the early 80's. Such an unprovoked attack holds dire consequences.

Besides, Iran is still 1 to 2 years away from having the ability to arm a nuclear warhead, if they were to continue with full-scale enrichment program.

The Israel government and the US government are pumping out the propaganda. And all the while we are to believe that the Iranian government isn't using propaganda to incite anger in Israel and the US by declaring that the Jewish Holocaust never occurred. (Funny, the US government still refuses to recognize the Armenian Holocaust that inspired Hitler's actions.)

It is really interesting to watch those that most believe the propaganda of US government are the most gullable when it comes to the propaganda of Iran.

From what I have read about the potential effects from attacking Iran do not bode well for the US or Israel.

Of course Iran also has something that Iraq's Saddam Hussein did not have before Bush's war of choice, allies. China and Russia won't be supportive of any such invasion. Anf they sure as hellwont oppose Iranina retaliation whould Israel decide "pre-emptively" attack Iran.

Funny how the US is in favor of Israel "pre-emptively"attacking Iran but scoffs at the notion that Iran has the very same right. (Gee, and he wonders why "they hate us."

historymike said...

Intriguing geopolitical take, Andrew of Arabia.

Welcome to the blog, BTW - I posted a link.

I think Israel's response will also depend on the factions that are in control after the elections later this month. If the hawks win, I think they will attack Natanz.

historymike said...

I agree, Mac- Bush's recent nuclear stance has been pretty puzzling:

Indian nukes=good.
Pakistani nukes= not so good.
Iranian nukes= very bad.

No consistency, and little regard for historical precedent (i.e. NPT).

His seeming refusal to engage in cooperative diplomacy with the EU may get us into a very ugly regional war.

Stephanie said...

This is a bad idea. We probably can't stop it (if our representatives even bother to try), but it's a bad idea. Israel is putting itself into a position it's not going to be able to wiggle itself out of, and I highly doubt they can handle Iran's ire. Especially since we're not in much of a position to get them out of their hot-spot.

White Mormon Patriot said...

andrew of arabia wrote: "I would have to say that Israel bombing Iranian nuclear facilities would probably not lead to war because of a couple of reasons. First, no matter what Israel does, there is no way that their Middle Eastern neighbours could hate them more. The arab states would therefore not attack out of hate, because they already hate them as much as is humanly possible. Next, they wouldn't want to risk another "catastrophe" along the lines of '67 and '72 where the most powerful arab states tag-teamed israel (with the help of the Soviet Union) and were still beaten back."
I would disagree with this analysis. It's true that the Arab states can't possibly "hate" Israel any more than they do now, but an attack on Iran would give them an excuse to express that hate through an organized military counterresponse. Unlike Israel's attack on the Osirak reactor in Iraq, which wiped out the bulk of Iraq's nuclear efforts, Iran's nuclear efforts are spread out over multiple facilities, some hardened, which could not be taken out with a single bombing run. This could lead to a protracted conflict, tempting other Arab states to join in.

And while Israel ultimately proved successful in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it was a near-miss. Egypt's Third Army made significant advances into the Sinai, and only a single Israeli tank battalion prevented Syria from making a breakthrough into Israel proper. It also took a continuous American airlift to guarantee the Israeli victory. However, as a result of initial success, Arabs now know that the Israelis no longer "walk on water", like they did in the Six Day War.

I don't believe World War III would start solely by a war against Iran in the Middle East. What could turn it into a world war is the possibility that either China or North Korea might capitalize on America's Middle East obsession by starting mischief in the Pacific. However, China might be reluctant to jeopardize the 2008 Beijing Olympics since they undoubtedly view that event as a potential cash cow designed to attract more foreign exchange.

The peace dividend bought by Papa Bush is rapidly being depleted by Baby Bush.

Calico Jack said...

As I may have said before, but the topic will probably get deleted over on TT.

The UN will dither, shout and make a lot of racket. Israel will bomb Iran in the middle of the night without telling anyone, and the next morning we can all read about it over our coffee. And yeah, the rest of the world will breathe a little easier and thank Israel, silently and otherwise.

The real question here is who is going to bomb Iran, not if. Iran has a delivery system, so Israel can't afford to allow Iran nuclear weapons. Neither can anyone else within range.

historymike said...

I agree, alaskawingnut, that taking out Iranian nuclear facilities poses greater difficulty than did Iraq.

Calico Jack:

The Iranians possess much better mid-range missiles than did Iraq at the height of Sadaam's powers. Israel is well within the range of Iran's Shahab-3 missiles, and you can bet that Iran would retaliate with a couple of dozen warheads at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

That turn of events could bring a much wider war.

I then see Syria and/or Iran taking "buffer" slices out of Iraq, and the US getting caught in the middle of a grab for the remnants of Iraq.

Andrew of Arabia said...

HistoryMike, I don't mean to take up so much space in your comments section so I'll keep this brief! With regards to your comment about the varying attitudes of the US towards Indian, Iranian, and Pakistani nuclear programs I have posted an entry that partly deals with that issue. Specifically why the Indian nuclear agreement would benefit the US (and the west). So here is the link if you would like to check it out

"Our Friends in New Delhi"

BTW I've also added you to my links section ... get ready for at least one referral per month (hopefully your servers can handle it!)

historymike said...

Feel free to post long, mid-size, and short comments, Andrew.

I'll check out the link.

McCaskey said...

I just wanted to say this was an interesting thread to important subject matter discussed by well-read, smart people who can comment and maybe even disagree without name-calling and mud-slinging. I think we all feel something big's going to happen on this issue in the not-too-distant-future.

Anonymous said...

Mcdonald's Animal Farm

Part of the problem is that many people throughout the Middle East and the World seem to lack the skills to diferentiate between a "Threat" and a "responce to that threat". The Iranian threat is made out of hatred with the intent to "Wipe Israel off the face of the Earth". In other words, kill all of its people and destroy all of its cities, etc. The israeli responce is defensive in nature. It suggests that it might try to destroy Irans ability to carry out its threat ie. nuclear facilities but it doesn't suggest a desire to "Wipe Iran off the face of the Earth". Understanding the meaning of words and how they are used is important in order to decide who is right and wrong.