Sunday, February 21, 2010

Iranian Nukes, Part II

Recently, I was asked by a reader what I thought that Israel, and/or the US, might do about Iranian nukes. I answered as follows:

In the 2/16/10 LA Times there was an opinion piece saying how ridiculous the 2007 NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) was about Iran stopping their nuclear production in about 2003. I remember when it came out and the Times had a summary of it. It was like a child had written it. I could not believe that it was the combined "thinking" and "analysis" of our 12 or 16 or whatever number of intelligence agencies.

As I said in my latest blog, Bush let the issue go, even though he should have taken action long ago. After 2 to 3 years of our European allies (Britain, France and Germany) getting nowhere in their negotiations with Iran, Bush should have said "enough!" But he was already getting lots of flack about Iraq and Afghanistan; and the dems and the mainscream media were quite vocal in trying to preempt any action by us. They made it sound like the "cowboy" wanted to attack the entire muslim world.

Russia and China have prevented any meaningful sanctions. Frankly, however, I am hard pressed to see how sanctions would ever work to stop a country determined to make nukes. As I said in my latest blog, the time for appeasement has long since passed. So will Obama do what Bush failed to do? I know just asking the question makes it seem like I am nuts. But Obama has been using drones successfully in Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda. Can you imagine if Bush had sent those drones into a sovereign country that we are not at war with - the media would have gone crazy. Notice how it's a non-issue when Obama does it.

So, if after making all the overtures he has made to Iran and still being snubbed; and when it's clear now that Iran is enriching uranium for nukes, will Obama act or at least quietly support an Israeli attack? I can't rule it out.

As for Israel acting alone, there are still some (many I hope) who adhere to the credo: Never Again! Never again will Jews allow the mass extinction of many of their people. Israel sees itself as the defender and protector of Jews worldwide. That is why when a French plane was hijacked to Entebbe, Uganda it was Israel that sent commandos to rescue the hostages, many of them Jews. It was not the French. The sole Israeli soldier killed in that raid was Netanyahu's brother. So I do not believe Israel will do nothing. I would not be surprised if the Mossad already has agents in Iran either trying to disrupt their nuke program and/or killing some of their nuclear scientists.

It would still be a very difficult mission for tiny Israel to take on alone. Yes, they took out Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. And they took out Syria's a couple years ago. But Iran is considerably further and has spread out their numerous nuclear facilities across their large country. So the task is infinitely more difficult. But even with limited US assistance such as the cruise missiles and drones taking out Iran's anti-aircraft batteries and Iran's fighters it would make a huge difference. Of course, the AWACS surveillance wouldn't hurt either.

So I believe a lot of this falls on the USA as usual. Europe will do nothing. Russia and China don't care (in fact, they are probably enjoying it). Sending in troops is not an option. But our capabilities as noted above are significant. Obama just has to be pushed to the point where he is insulted enough by the snubbing Iran has given him. Otherwise, It falls onto Israel. Israel either does it, or at the very least, tells Iran very clearly that anything incoming into Israel from Iran will result in the immediate destruction of their country. As noted before, Israel has an estimated 200 nukes.

So while I wish I could be more definitive, that's the best I can do for now. If I learn more, you will hear about it from me.

Since sending the above reply, the 2/19/10 Jewish Press hit the newsstands. In an article concerning Iranian nukes, they indicate that Obama sent the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, to meet with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. According to the article they were "coordinating military strategy." With regards to Iran actually getting nukes, Mullen had this to say:

"Politically it is prohibited in any way for Iran to have nuclear weapons.
The US would like to exhaust all of the diplomatic options with Iran
before anyone decides what the next step would be. And all options,
including a military attack on Iran, are on the table. But we are not
there yet. We will operate all our forces to have a stable and secure
Israel. The collaboration and improving capabilities between our
militaries is not a response (to Iran) but only for defensive purposes."

Probably about as strong a statement as could be expected given where Mullen's boss, the Commander in Chief, currenly is on the issue. Obama is apparently sending Biden to Israel this week; so it remains to be seen if the political message varies significantly from Mullen's. This writer continues to believe that further sanctions, even if passed by the UN, are unlikely to deter a country determined to get nuclear weapons.

Then, in today's Verizon News online, they report that the Israeli Air Force has announced that they now have a new fleet of drones. The new drones, called Heron TP, are the size of a Boeing 737, with an 86' wingspan. They can fly up to 40,000 feet high and can go nonstop at least 20 hours - enabling them to reach the Persian Gulf. They have jamming capabilities, and can also "assist in communications between ground control and manned aircraft." And, of course, they can carry their own payloads.

So likely, Israel will allow the US to play out the sanctions issue a little longer. But if I am correct, it will ultimately take military action to prevent Iran from getting nukes.