Sunday, 18 July 2010

Israel wide-ranging attacks on Iran

Israel re-arms ready for war with Iran

By Channel 4 News
Updated on 15 July 2010
Israel could now stage wide-ranging attacks on Iranian targets, a blunt new reports warns. Writing for Channel 4 News, Professor Paul Rogers argues more attention must be paid to Iran amid risks of yet another war in the region.
Iran's President Ahmadinejad. Oxford Research Group says 
Israel has the potential to launch a wide-ranging attack on Iran (Image:
 Getty) Israel has successfully re-armed its air force with long-range F-151 and F-161 strike aircraft, supported by an upgraded fleet of tanker aircraft.
It also has a large fleet of unmanned drones, some of them long-range and able to carry bombs and missiles, and is very likely to be in a position to use facilities in Kurdish Iraq and Azerbaijan, both bordering Iran.
In short, Israel could now stage wide-ranging attacks on Iranian targets.
These are the findings of an Oxford Research Group (ORG) report, Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects, that analyses the risks and consequences of an Israeli military attack on Iran's nuclear and missile programmes. 

An Israeli military strike on IranThe analysis points to Israel's need to do serious damage not just to the bases and nuclear plants in Iran but to all the support facilities, including factories, research centres and even university departments training scientists and engineers. 

The attacks would be so wide-ranging they would be seen as something much more than isolated action against remotely located sites.  Iranians would see them as an assault on the country as a whole, and even the unpopular regime of President Ahmadinejad would get strong support.

Such military action would be deeply counter-productive, according to the report, which says one of the first actions Iran would take would be to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, giving the legally required 90-day notice, and would then proceed to put intense efforts into developing a nuclear deterrent and a more substantial force of medium-range missiles. 

Iranian military planners have almost certainly anticipated Israeli action and will have already put in place a capability to respond, probably by speeding up the construction of deep underground facilities.

Reconstituting a nuclear/missile programme would almost certainly lead to further Israeli attacks, to which Iran could respond with a wide range of regional actions including interference with world oil supplies.
Israeli military action against Iran "would lead to a sustained conflict and regional instability that would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it", the report concludes.

Radical response
This is a blunt assessment and raises some very difficult issues as to the best way forward, not least because much of the current diplomatic pressure, including the move towards tougher sanctions against Iran, is backed up by an unstated but implied willingness to use force if everything else fails.
The ORG report is not intended to provide answers to this – its function is to warn of the severe risks of military action – but it does point to two approaches:
• One is to redouble efforts to get a diplomatic settlement, a process more likely to achieve results, if prospects for an Israeli/Palestinian peace process are greatly increased, if relations between Iran and western Gulf States improve and if there is the beginning of a prospect of a regional nuclear-free zone.
There was some modest progress on the latter issue at the recent Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York.
• The other is to accept that Iran may eventually acquire a nuclear capability and use that as the start of a process of balanced regional denuclearisation. There should be no pretence that this would be easy, given Israel's position and the possibility that an Iranian nuclear weapon capability could encourage regional proliferation.
The problem is that both approaches require a radically different attitude to Iran, both in Israel and the United States, than currently seems likely.  
In Washington there is a rising chorus in right-wing circles pointing to the need for the US to prepare for robust military action if diplomacy fails.  
As for Israel, the Prime Minister, Mr Netanyahu, was blunt in his Fox TV interview at the weekend, describing Iran as "the ultimate terrorist threat" and saying that it was a mistake to think Iran's nuclear ambitions could be contained.
For now, the Obama administration seems intent on pursuing a diplomatic solution, in spite of Republican pressure to take a hard line, but the climate of opinion in Israel is much more hawkish. 
Just at a time when some radical new thinking is required, Israel seems intent on a singularly tough approach, readily considering military action, quite possibly in southern Lebanon as well as Iran. 
While much of the concern in the Middle East and South West Asia is with the post-election problems in Iraq and the worsening conflict in Afghanistan, much more attention needs to be paid to Iran, and the thoroughly dangerous consequences of yet another war in the region.
Paul Rogers is Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group and Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University.

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