[THS] Manufacturing Consent For Attack On Iran
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Tue Sep 1 13:28:08 CEST 2009
Manufacturing Consent For Attack On Iran
Israel has Iran in its Sights
Unless Tehran responds to by late September to international proposals on its nuclear
program, history strongly suggests the Israelis will act alone.
By Micah Zenko
August 30, 2009 "Los Angeles Times" -- Iran has until late September to respond to
the latest international proposal aimed at stopping the Islamic Republic from
developing a nuclear weapon. Under the proposal, Iran would suspend its uranium
enrichment program in exchange for a U.N. Security Council commitment to forgo a
fourth round of economic and diplomatic sanctions.
But if diplomacy fails, the world should be prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran's
suspected nuclear weapons facilities. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently acknowledged: "The window between a strike on
Iran and their getting nuclear weapons is a pretty narrow window."
If Israel attempts such a high-risk and destabilizing strike against Iran, President
Obama will probably learn of the operation from CNN rather than the CIA. History
shows that although Washington seeks influence over Israel's military operations,
Israel would rather explain later than ask for approval in advance of launching
preventive or preemptive attacks. Those hoping that the Obama administration will
be able to pressure Israel to stand down from attacking Iran as diplomatic efforts
drag on are mistaken.
The current infighting among Iran's leaders also has led some to incorrectly believe
that Tehran's nuclear efforts will stall. As Friday's International Atomic Energy Agency
report on Iran's nuclear programs revealed, throughout the political crises of the last
three months, Iran's production rate for centrifuges has remained steady, as has its
ability to produce uranium hexafluoride to feed into the centrifuges.
So let's consider four past Israeli military operations relevant to a possible strike
In October 1956, Israel, Britain and France launched an ill-fated assault against
Egypt to seize control of the Suez Canal. The day before, Secretary of State John
Foster Dulles grilled Abba Eban, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., about Israel's
military buildup on the border with Egypt, but Eban kept quiet about his country's
In June 1967, Israel initiated the Six-Day War without notice to Washington, despite
President Johnson's insistence that Israel maintain the status quo and consult with
the U.S. before taking action. Only days before the war began, Johnson notified
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in a personal message: "Israel just must not take
preemptive military action and thereby make itself responsible for the initiation of
On June 7, 1981, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak
shortly before it was to be fueled to develop the capacity to make nuclear weapons-
grade plutonium. Again, Washington was not informed in advance. President Reagan
"condemned" the attack and "thought that there were other options that might have
A few days later, Prime Minister Menachem Begin told CBS News: "This attack will be
a precedent for every future government in Israel. ... Every future Israeli prime
minister will act, in similar circumstances, in the same way."
Begin's prediction proved true on Sept. 6, 2007, when Israeli aircraft destroyed what
was believed to be a North Korean-supplied plutonium reactor in Al Kibar, Syria. Four
months earlier, Israeli intelligence officials had provided damning evidence to the
Bush administration about the reactor, and the Pentagon drew up plans to attack it.
Ironically, according to New York Times reporter David Sanger, President Bush
ultimately decided the U.S. could not bomb another country for allegedly possessing
weapons of mass destruction. An administration official noted that Israel's attack went
forward "without a green light from us. None was asked for, none was given."
These episodes demonstrate that if Israel decides that Iranian nuclear weapons are
an existential threat, it will be deaf to entreaties from U.S. officials to refrain from
using military force. Soon after the operation, Washington will express concern to Tel
Aviv publicly and privately. The long-standing U.S.-Israeli relationship will remain as
strong as ever with continued close diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military
Should Tehran prove unwilling to meet the September deadline and bargain away its
growing and latent nuclear weapon capability, we can expect an Israeli attack that
does not require U.S. permission, or even a warning.
Micah Zenko is a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign
* The Wall Street Journal
* REVIEW & OUTLOOK
* AUGUST 30, 2009, 11:20 P.M. ET
Israel, Iran and Obama
Conflict is inevitable unless the West moves quickly to stop a nuclear Tehran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on
Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments
that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a
nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by
more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban
military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course.
The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is
likely to come from Israel. They've long concluded that the U.N. is no threat, as IAEA
chief Mohamed ElBaradei has in practice become an apologist for Iran's program.
They can also see that the West lacks the will to do anything, as the Obama
Administration continues to plead for Tehran to negotiate even as Iran holds show
trials of opposition leaders and journalists for saying the recent re-election of
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent. The irony is that the weaker the West and
U.N. appear, the more probable an Israeli attack becomes.
The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from
getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That's a
view shared across Israel's political spectrum, from traditional hawks like Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to current Defense Minister and former Labor Prime
Minister Ehud Barak. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward
enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its
ballistic missilesall the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence. Iran's
march to the bomb also alarms its Arab neighbors, but it represents an existential
threat to an Israeli nation that Iran has promised to destroy and has waged decades
of proxy war against.
This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran's stolen election and crackdown.
The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a
military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation. The Revolutionary
Guard Corps is gaining power at the expense of the traditional military and a divided
On the weekend, Ahmadinejad called for the arrest and punishment of opposition
leaders, and last week he nominated Ahmad Vahidi, a commander in Iran's
Revolutionary Guards Corps, to become defense minister. Vahidi is wanted on an
Interpol arrest warrant for his role in masterminding the 1994 attack on a Jewish
cultural center in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 200 others.
Vahidi's nomination shows that when Ahmadinejad talks of wiping Israel off the map,
no Israel leader can afford to dismiss it as a religious allegory.
Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration's policy of diplomatic pleading
with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European
Union and Bush Administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion in July
that the U.S. would extend a "defense umbrella" over its allies in the Middle East
"once [Iranians] have a nuclear weapon" may have been a slip of the lip. But Israelis
can be forgiven for wondering if the U.S. would sooner accept a nuclear Iran as a
fait accompli than do whatever is necessary to stop it.
It's no wonder, then, that the Israeli military has been intensivelyand very
publiclywar-gaming attack scenarios on Iran's nuclear installations. This has
included sending warships through the Suez Canal (with Egypt's blessing), testing its
Arrow antiballistic missile systems and conducting nation-wide emergency drills. U.S.
and Israeli military officials we've spoken to are confident an Israeli strike could deal a
significant blow to Iran's programs, even if some elements would survive. The longer
Israel waits, however, the more steps Iran can take to protect its installations.
The consequences of an Israeli attack are impossible to predict, but there is no doubt
they would implicate U.S. interests throughout the Middle East. Iran would accuse
the U.S. of complicity, whether or not the U.S. gave its assent to an attack. Iran
could also attack U.S. targets, drawing America into a larger Mideast war.
Short of an Islamist revolution in Pakistan, an Israeli strike on Iran would be the most
dangerous foreign policy issue President Obama could face, throwing all his
diplomatic ambitions into a cocked hat. Yet in its first seven months, the
Administration has spent more diplomatic effort warning Israel not to strike than it
has rallying the world to stop Iran.
In recent days, the Administration has begun taking a harder line against Tehran,
with talk of "crippling" sanctions on Iran's imports of gasoline if the mullahs don't
negotiate by the end of September. Rhetorically, that's a step in the right direction.
But unless Mr. Obama gets serious, and soon, about stopping Iran from getting a
bomb, he'll be forced to deal with the consequences of Israel acting in its own
Manufacturing Consent For Attack On Iran:
Germany to host six-power talks on Iran nuclear program this week:
Germany will host high-level talks this week between the United States, China, France, Britain, Russia and Germany on Iran's disputed nuclear program, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
Storm Over North Korea-Iran Arms Vessel:
The seizure by the United Arab Emirates of a ship carrying North Korean rocket-propelled grenades and other conventional weapons, reportedly for delivery to Iran, belies the seriousness of North Korea's moves toward reconciliation in recent weeks.
NATO Increasing its Watch on Iran:
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is increasing its vigilance as the Islamic Republic continues its drive toward nuclear development, and it has begun to take a deeper interest in Iran's military capability.
6 nations to hold meeting on Iran in Germany:
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said this week's gathering will prepare for a meeting later in September on the Iran nuclear issue, which will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Iran to fight enemy's "soft war"-minister nominee: -
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's proposed new intelligence minister pledged to "confront the enemies' soft war" as he outlined his planned policies during a heated debate in parliament on Monday.
Iran welcomes 'positive' IAEA nuclear report:
The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday in a study obtained by AFP that Iran has slowed production of enriched uranium and agreed to tighter monitoring of its enrichment plant.
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