FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Dissertations, online materials

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

«CONTINGENCY PLANNING MEMORANDUM NO. 5 An Israeli Strike on Iran Steven Simon November 2009 The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --


An Israeli Strike on Iran

Steven Simon

November 2009

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think

tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order

to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR carries out its mission by maintaining a diverse membership, with special programs to promote interest and develop expertise in the next generation of foreign policy leaders;

convening meetings at its headquarters in New York and in Washington, DC, and other cities where senior government officials, members of Congress, global leaders, and prominent thinkers come together with CFR members to discuss and debate major international issues; supporting a Studies Program that fosters independent research, enabling CFR scholars to produce articles, reports, and books and hold roundtables that analyze foreign policy issues and make concrete policy recommendations; publishing Foreign Affairs, the preeminent journal on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy; sponsoring Independent Task Forces that produce reports with both findings and policy prescriptions on the most important foreign policy topics; and providing up-to-date information and analysis about world events and American foreign policy on its website, CFR.org.

The Council on Foreign Relations takes no institutional position on policy issues and has no affiliation with the U.S. government. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion contained in its publications are the sole responsibility of the author or authors.

The Center for Preventive Action (CPA) Contingency Roundtable series seeks to organize focused discussions on plausible short- to medium-term contingencies that could seriously threaten U.S. interests.

Contingency meeting topics range from specific states or regions of concern to more thematic issues and draw on the expertise of government and nongovernment experts. The goal of the meeting series is not only to raise awareness of U.S. government officials and the expert community to potential crises but also to generate practical policy options to lessen the likelihood of the contingency and to reduce the negative consequences should it occur. A summary memo of the resulting recommendations is distributed to participants and important policymakers.

For further information about CFR or this paper, please write to the Council on Foreign Relations, 58 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065, or call Communications at 212.434.9888. Visit CFR’s website, www.cfr.org.

Copyright © 2009 by the Council on Foreign Relations®, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America.

This paper may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form beyond the reproduction permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law Act (17 U.S.C. Sections 107 and 108) and excerpts by reviewers for the public press, without express written permission from the Council on Foreign Relations.

For information, write to the Publications Office, Council on Foreign Relations, 58 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10065.


Successive Israeli governments have held that a nuclear weapons capability in the region, other than Israel’s own, would pose an intolerable threat to Israel’s survival as a state and society. Iran’s nuclear program—widely regarded as an effort to obtain a nuclear weapon, or put Tehran a “turn of a screw” away from it—has triggered serious concern in Israel. Within the coming year, the Israeli government could decide, much as it did twenty-eight years ago with respect to Iraq and two years ago with respect to Syria, to attack Iran’s nuclear installations in order to delay its acquisition of a weapons capability.

While U.S. officials—including the president––have declared a nuclear armed Iran to be “unacceptable,” the administration has been clear in wanting to prevent such an outcome through peaceful diplomatic means. Without forswearing the eventual use of military force, senior U.S. officials have also indicated that a preventive strike on Iran by Israel would be “ill advised,” “very destabilizing,” and “likely very bad,” and thus not in the U.S. interest. These concerns have evidently been transmitted privately to the Israeli government.

This contingency planning memo assesses the likelihood of an Israeli strike against Iran despite U.S. objections, the implications for the United States should it take place, the policy options available to reduce the chances of its occurrence, and the measures that could be taken to mitigate the potentially negative consequences.


An Israeli attack would likely concentrate on three locations: Isfahan, where Iran produces uranium hexafluoride gas; Natanz, where the gas is enriched in approximately half of the eight thousand centrifuges located there; and Arak, where a heavy water research reactor, scheduled to come on line in 2012, would be ideal to produce weapons-grade plutonium. It is conceivable that Israel may attack other sites that it suspects to be part of a nuclear weapons program if targeting data were available, such as the recently disclosed Qom site, whose location is known, or centrifuge fabrication sites, the location(s) of which have not yet been identified. The latter would be compelling targets since their destruction would hobble Iran’s ability to reconstitute its program. But attacks against the sites at Natanz, Isfahan, and Arak alone would likely stretch Israel’s capabilities, and planners would probably be reluctant to enlarge the raid further.

Israel is capable of carrying out these attacks unilaterally. Its F-16 and F-15 aircraft, equipped with conformal fuel tanks and refueled with 707-based and KC-130 tankers toward the beginning and end of their flight profiles, have the range to reach the target set, deliver their payloads in the face of Iranian air defenses, and return to their bases. The munitions necessary to penetrate the targets are currently in Israel’s inventory in sufficient numbers; they include Bomb Live Unit (BLU)-109 and BLU 113 bombs that carry two thousand and five thousand pounds, respectively, of high-energy explosives. These GPS-guided weapons are extremely accurate and can be lofted from attacking aircraft fifteen kilometers from their target, thereby reducing the attackers’ need to fly through air defenses.

Israel also has a laser-guided version of these bombs that is more accurate than the GPS variant and could deploy a special-operations laser designation unit to illuminate aim points as it is reported to have done in the attack on the al-Kibar facility in Syria.

These munitions could be expected to damage the targets severely. Natanz is the only one of the three likely targets that is largely underground, sheltered by up to twenty-three meters of soil and concrete. BLU-type bombs, used in a “burrowing” mode, however, could penetrate deeply enough to fragment the inner surface of the ceiling structures above the highly fragile centrifuge arrays and even precipitate the collapse of the entire structure. Burrowing requires that attacking aircraft deliver their second and third bombs into the cavity created by the first. GPS-guided munitions are accurate enough to do this a little less than half of the time. The probability of successful burrowing increases with the number of shots. The use of three bombs per aim point would confer better than a 70 percent probability of success. (Laser-guided munitions are more capable of a successful burrow on the first try.) The uranium conversion facility in Isfahan and reactor at Arak are not buried and could be heavily damaged, or completely destroyed, relatively easily. This would be possible even if Iran managed to down a third of the Israeli strike package, a feat that would far exceed historical ratios of bomber losses by any country in any previous war.

These relatively upbeat ballistic assessments do not mean that the mission as a whole would be easy. On the contrary, a coordinated air attack would be complicated and highly risky. The three plausible routes to Iran involve overflight of third countries: the northern approach would likely follow the Syrian-Turkish border and risk violation of Turkey’s airspace; the central flight path would cross Jordan and Iraq; a southern route would transit the lower end of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and possibly Kuwait. All but two of these countries are to a greater or lesser degree hostile to Israel. The exceptions, Jordan and Turkey, would not wish their airspace to be used for an Israeli attack against Iran. Turkey recently canceled an annual trilateral exercise involving Israel, in part to signal its opposition to an Israeli strike. In any case, overflight would jeopardize Israeli diplomatic relations with both countries. With respect to Syria and Saudi Arabia, operational concerns would trump diplomatic ones. If either country detects Israeli aircraft and chooses to challenge the overflight using surfaceto-air missiles or intercepting aircraft, Israel’s intricate attack plan, which would have a razor-thin margin for error to begin with, could well be derailed.

Overflight of Iraq, whose airspace is under de facto U.S. control, would also be diplomatically awkward for Israel and would risk a deadly clash with American air defenses since the intruding aircraft would not have the appropriate Identification, Friend, or Foe (IFF) codes. Israel would have to carefully weigh the operational risk and most of all the cost of a strike to its most vital bilateral relationship, especially if President Barack Obama had explicitly asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to order an attack.

The sheer distances involved pose a challenge, as well. The targets lie at the outermost 1,750kilometer range limits of Israeli tactical aircraft. Diplomatic and military factors would confine Israeli refueling operations to international airspace where tankers could orbit safely for long periods. These locations, while usable, are suboptimal. They would yield the attackers little leeway to loiter in their target areas, or engage in the fuel-intensive maneuvering typical of dogfights and evasion of surfaceto-air missiles. The limited number of tankers would limit the number of sorties.

A final consideration for Israeli planners would be the effect of explosives on the nuclear materials stored at the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan and the enrichment facility at Natanz. Both facilities are likely to possess uranium hexafluoride and Natanz produces low enriched uranium.

Though these materials are not radioactive and do not pose radiological risks, the release of uranium into the environment would almost certainly raise public health concerns due to heavy metal contamination.

This combination of diplomatic and operational complexities would clearly give Israeli leaders pause. To act, they would have to perceive a grave threat to the state of Israel and no reliable alternative to eliminating that threat.


The likelihood of this contingency depends on Israeli assessments of U.S. and international resolve to block Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability; the state of the Iranian program; the amount of time a successful strike would buy to be worth the expected risks and costs, a point on which there is a spectrum of Israeli views, from six months to five years; whether Israel believes there is a clandestine Iranian program, which would lead some Israelis to conclude that an attack would not buy any time at all; and the effect of a strike on the U.S.-Israel relationship. Because none of these factors is constant, estimates about the likelihood of an Israeli strike within the coming year will vary. For example, Israel is probably somewhat less likely to attack now than it was before the Qom installation was disclosed, the P-3 took a firmer stance, and Russia appeared to concede that stronger sanctions had to be considered. If Iran were to agree to ship the bulk of its uranium to France and Russia for enrichment—a deal that has been agreed in working level negotiations but may never be consummated—Israel’s incentive to accept the risks of an attack against Iran would probably diminish. Should diplomatic initiatives run aground, the likelihood of an Israeli attack could be expected to increase accordingly.

Probability assessments will vary based on other factors, as well. Iranian rhetoric that reinforces President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s themes of Holocaust denial and the inevitable disappearance of Israel only strengthen the hand of attack proponents within Israel by justifying fears about Iran’s intentions, while lowering diplomatic barriers to an attack. Certain factors that will not be publicly apparent could play a role, such as developments regarding Israel’s overflight options that reduce the risks inherent in the mission; the availability to Israel of new, more accurate targeting intelligence, especially relating to single points of failure, or other potentially catastrophic vulnerabilities in Iran’s installations; and technical advances, particularly in air defense suppression, that reduce the risks in attempting penetration.

It is clear, however, that Israel sees the stakes as very high. Netanyahu’s UN General Assembly speech emphasized the existential nature of the threat that he and others in the current government believe Iran represents. His emphasis on the Holocaust as a defining feature of Jewish history and his self-conception as the one who bears the burden of preventing yet another such disaster suggest that U.S. calculations of risk and benefit that tilt toward Israeli restraint might prove to be mirror-imaging of a particularly deceptive sort. Given Iran’s supportive relationship with certain terrorist groups in the region, Israel also cannot ignore the risk that a nuclear device might be transferred to them in the future. The longer-term impact of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons on triggering further proliferation in the Middle East, not least among states hostile to Israel, will also enter into their strategic calculus.

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

Similar works:

«Management Practices and the Performance of Mutual Funds in the Caribbean By Winston Moore winston.moore@cavehill.uwi.edu Department of Economics The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus Barbados June 2010 Table of Contents Acknowledgement Executive Summary 1. Introduction 2. Review of Previous Literature 2.1 Classification of Mutual Funds 2.2 Does Management Style Impact on Mutual Fund Performance 3. Persistence in Mutual Fund Returns 3.1 Mutual Fund Returns 3.1 Are Mutual Fund...»

«YALE INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR FINANCE ICF Working Paper No. 04-50 COWLES FOUNDATION For Research in Economics Discussion Paper No. 1499 January 2005 BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS AND INSTITUTIONAL INNOVATION Robert J. Shiller This paper can be downloaded without charge from the Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection: http://ssrn.com/abstract=671024 http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/ An index to the working papers in the Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper Series is located at:...»

«Annex 1: Detailed description of the MA Economics of International Trade and European Integration – general structure of the Programme, practical implementation, admission criteria and enrolment procedure, and financial aspects 1. General Structure of the Programme The M.A. Economics of International Trade and European Integration is an academic training programme for economists with interests and career intentions in these or related areas. The programme involves the study of economics and...»

«A Radical agenda for Cities Sharing, Self determination, and deeper democracy Humans are ingenious. We’ve discovered and created some amazing things: electricity; television; computers; mobile phones; medicine; cities. We’ve also done some pretty stupid things. We’ve pumped vast quantities of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We’ve caused species to die out one thousand times faster than their natural rates of extinction. We’ve spoilt the soil we need to produce food. And we’ve...»

«RESUME Mohamed AROURI Full Professor of Economics and Finance Université d’Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, France Tel : 00 33 4 73 17 75 84 Fax : 00 33 4 73 17 75 75 E-mail : mohamed.arouri@udamail.fr mohamed.arouri@gmail.com Short biography: Dr. Arouri is currently a full Professor of Finance and Economics (Professeur des Universités agrégé de première classe) and Director of the Doctoral School of Economics, Law and Management (ED245) at the Université d’Auvergne, France. He is also a...»

«RESEARCH PAPER 8/2015 Financing innovative entrepreneurship Mahmoud Alinejad, Antonio Balaguer and Luke Hendrickson December 2015 Abstract Surveys in Australia and across the OECD suggest that obtaining adequate access to capital is one of the biggest hurdles to growing innovative firms. This paper investigates the likelihood of firms of different age, size and innovation intensity to seek debt or equity finance. Our analysis shows a majority of Australian firms do not tend to seek debt or...»

«Tracking Climate Co-Finance: Approach Proposed by MDBs Briefing Document | version 2, 15 March 20161 Background and Purpose A consortium of MDBs2 (hereafter referred to as “MDBs”) has jointly reported their investments in climate change adaptation and mitigation projects (“climate finance”) on an annual basis since 2011, with the latest report published on June 20153. The objectives of this work are as follows: Improved transparency and better understanding of MDB’s own and external...»

«THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF PARIS 6, rue du Colonel Combes 75007 Paris, France Fax: (33. 1) wpseries@aup.edu www.aup.edu Working Paper No. 28 Integration Options for MERCOSULAn Investigation using the AMIDA Model. Renato FLORES University of Antwerp Fundação Getulio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro February 2006 Presented by Renato FLORES at the American University of Paris Tuesday the 7th of March 2006 The Working Paper Series at The American University of Paris is published and sponsored...»

«Arvin, Newton (1900-1963) by Claude J. Summers Encyclopedia Copyright © 2015, glbtq, Inc. Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc. Reprinted from http://www.glbtq.com Newton Arvin was one of the most gifted critics of American literature of the mid-twentieth century. Not only did he write penetrating studies of major American writers, including Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville, and Longfellow, but he also helped demonstrate the persistent value of a kind of criticism that incorporates historical,...»

«Journal of Consumer Culture http://joc.sagepub.com Brands: A critical perspective Adam Arvidsson Journal of Consumer Culture 2005; 5; 235 DOI: 10.1177/1469540505053093 The online version of this article can be found at: http://joc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/5/2/235 Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com Additional services and information for Journal of Consumer Culture can be found at: Email Alerts: http://joc.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions:...»


«Passing the buck: transferring unanticipated purchase prices to suppliers and customers Maria Fischl Institute of Technology Management, University of St.Gallen (Switzerland) maria.fischl@unisg.ch Vahid Sohrabpour Department of Design Sciences & Department of Service Management and Service Studies, Lund University (Sweden) Ali Nazarpour Smurfit Business School, University College Dublin (Ireland) Abstract Unanticipated procurement costs due to changes in input factors’ market prices and...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.dissertation.xlibx.info - Dissertations, online materials

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.