Friday, October 22, 2004
Laura King of the LA Times: Israel May Have Iran in Its Sights
"Nuclear weapons in a country with a fundamentalist regime, a government with which we have no diplomatic contact, a known sponsor of terrorist groups like Hezbollah and which wants to wipe Israel off the map — that makes stable deterrence extremely difficult, if not impossible," Steinberg said.Read the whole thing.
Israel's concerns are magnified by the fact that Iran already possesses the medium-range Shahab-3 missile, which is capable of reaching Israel with either a conventional or non-conventional warhead. Iran said this week that it had test-fired an upgraded, more accurate version of the missile.
Preemptive strikes have always been an essential element of Israel's military doctrine. Perhaps the most pertinent example is the air raid that destroyed Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981.
"It would be a complicated operation. In order to undermine or disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, you would have to strike at least three or four sites," said Ephraim Kam, the deputy head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
"Otherwise the damage would be too limited, and it would not postpone the program by more than a year or two, and this could in the end be worse than doing nothing."
Few believe, however, that logistical challenges alone would hold back the Jewish state if it determined that a strike was necessary.
To reach Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981, Israeli warplanes were over hostile territory for most of their 90-minute, 680-mile flight. All the while, they held to a tightly clustered formation that resembled the radar signature of a commercial jet. When the Israelis reached their target, they destroyed the Iraqi reactor in less than a minute and a half.