There may be no turning back now that Israel said it might attack Iran's nuclear facilities sometime in May or June of this year. According to an article from the Washington Post "Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking at a security forum attended by some of Israel’s top intelligence and military leaders, declared that time was running out for stopping Iran’s nuclear advance, as the country’s uranium facilities disappear into newly constructed mountain bunkers. The Defense Minister said, "“Whoever says ‘later’ may find that later is too late,” Barak said. He switched from Hebrew to English for the last phrase: “later is too late.”
"The language reflected a deepening rift between Israeli and U.S. officials over the urgency of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, which Western intelligence officials and nuclear experts say could soon put nuclear weapons within the reach of Iran’s rulers."
Although the Obama administration has not ruled out U.S. military action against Iran, White House officials are worried that a unilateral strike could shatter the broad international coalition assembled in the past three years to confront Iran over its nuclear program, which Iranian leaders have consistently said is for peaceful purposes.
The nuclear facilities of Iran are called "an existential threat" to Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he has vowed to destroy them but can he? The potential threats are scattered and hidden all over Iran. There's a nuclear power plant on the Persian Gulf coast and in the northwest there is a complex doing research on the use of atomic science in agriculture. There's an underground uranium-enrichment facility about 3 miles south of Tehran. There are spinning centrifuges outside the holy city of Qum and a precision tool factory that makes them in Mashad.
It's highly doubtful that Israel can knock out all of Israel's facilities, but they could delay the enrichment procedure. Israel's F-15Is fighter bombers can carry enough fuel to reach Iran along with their F16I fighters, modified to escort the bombers. Israel also has enough satellites and fleets of drones to carry out a mission and a giant plane called the "Eitan" which is as wide as a 737 (acts as an eye in the sky) and can either carry bombs or cyber war gear designed to jam Iranian radar, communications and computers. A senior Israeli official told Time Magazine, Netanyahu was told that their forces have the ability to deal a serious blow to Iran's atomic effort, but he warned that it didn't have the ability to hit it in a meaningful way.
The United States' effort to keep Israel the dominant force in the Middle East allowed Israel (with $ 3 billion US dollars in 2011) to warn us what Tehran was up to. They have been warning us since the mid 1990s. In August of 2002, satellite imaging revealed an underground enrichment facility being built near the central city of Natanz.
About a year after the Natanz plant was revealed Israel tested the range of the F15I by flying them 1600 miles to Poland, supposedly to take part in the anniversary of the polish Air Force. For those interested, Tel Aviv is just short of a 1000 miles of Tehran.
A former senior official from Israel’s security establishment said with a smile “the U. S. Air Force could do but could they? The new Fordow facility is thought to be protected by shale of rock more than 260 feet thick. We don't know if our Massive Ordnance Penetrator (30,000 lb. bomb) that was recently delivered to our newly modified B-2 stealth bombers. Military experts say that an attack on Iran's nuclear program will be a major undertaking requiring hundreds of sorties and weeks and weeks of air campaigns.
For now, if our relationship with Israel becomes a tidbit friendlier, it could make Iran a little nervous. We could revive the postponed joint military exercise that was originally set for May. That would bring our patriot missile batteries to Israel to supplement its own air defenses. Hezbollah and Hamas will not sit on their hands if Iran is, threaten, so we would definitely see retaliation.
It shouldn't surprise anyone if the U.S. Navy and Special Ops have a plan to seize some small islands off the southeast coast of Iran to use as a base of operation. We have to be prepared to prevent Iran from cutting off the 20 -mile wide Strait of Hormuz. This waterway allows the shipment of 20% of the world's oil trade.
Panetta, along with US President Barack Obama warned Israeli officials against opting for a military offensive in Iran, saying it would jeopardize the international sanctions program and other non-military efforts to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear "red line."
The recent words uttered by Israel’s’ Defense Minister will affect the presidential campaign because the presidential candidates will be expected to offer a reasonable solution. The ole adage of “we will stand by Israel no matter what" will not be sufficient nor will just taking the opposite position of President Obama. I can see where Ron Paul will lose any slight hope of ever getting the Republican nomination with his “nonintervention" stance if attacking Iran or defending Israel is the issue. It becomes something other than being the policeman of the world.
February 6, 2012 issue of Time
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