Israel may unilaterally attack Iran`s N-facilities: Report

Israel may launch a unilateral attack on Iranian nuclear facilities within a year if the Obama administration fails to assure Tel Aviv that it is serious about foiling Tehran`s atomic ambitions, a media report has said.

Updated: Aug 11, 2010, 17:30 PM IST

Jerusalem: Israel may launch a unilateral
attack on Iranian nuclear facilities within a year if the
Obama administration fails to assure Tel Aviv that it is
serious about foiling Tehran`s atomic ambitions, a media
report has said.

Israel will carry out the military attack without asking
for Washington`s famous "green light" or even give couple of
false pre-attack alerts, according to Atlantic magazine`s
yet-to-be published cover story for the September edition,
obtained by Ha`aretz daily here.

"...one day next spring, the Israeli national security
adviser, Uzi Arad, and the Israeli defence minister, Ehud
Barak, will simultaneously telephone their counterparts at the
White House and the Pentagon, to inform them that their Prime
Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just ordered roughly one
hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the
Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran," the magazine
article says.

The aircraft could fly to Iran "possibly by crossing
Saudi Arabia, possibly by threading the border between Syria
and Turkey, and possibly by travelling directly through Iraq`s
airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft...," it
says painting a possible scenario.

The repercussions of such a strike, which could include
the bombing of the Iranian facilities in Natanz, Qom, Esfahan,
and may be even the Russian-built reactor in Bushehr, are less
than clear, despite the endless discussions and several
simulations, the report said.

American experts speculate that attacking Iran`s nuclear
facilities will only slightly delay the nuclear programme,
whereas some Israelis, as per the report, are a bit more
optimistic, in light of the successful Israeli operations
against Iraqi and Syrian reactors in the past.

The article`s author Jeffery Goldberg bases his arguments
on dozens of interviews he conducted in recent months with
Israeli, American and Arab officials and is of the opinion
that the possibility of an Israeli strike has crossed the 50
per cent mark.

The results of such an attack will be dire and it is
likely that the Israeli air force will not have much time to
waste in Iran, as Hizbullah will probably retaliate against
Israel in the North and the fighter jets will be needed there.

The unilateral operation might throw relations between
Jerusalem and Washington into an unprecedented crisis, and
could even unleash a full-scale regional war with possible
economic repercussions for the whole world, not to mention the
cost of human lives, the report says.

The timetable on the issue for the US is an evasive one
as the red lines were pushed back again and again, but the red
lines for Israel are very clear, Goldberg says.

"Based on my conversations with allies, it`s not so much
the timing of when or how the Iranians might pursue the
nuclear weapons, it`s whether they do so. And so whether it
would take six months, a year, or five years, it`s that deep
concern about Iran acquiring nuclear weapons that is the
preoccupation of our friends and partners.

"And we would be pursuing the path we`re pursuing
regardless of any issue of timing because we think it`s got
the best potential for changing Iranian behaviour," Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton told New York Times last week.

However, the end of December is Netanyahu`s deadline to
estimate the success of "non-military methods to stop Iran,"
the report says.

Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, reminded
Goldberg that "the expression `all options are on the table`
means that all options are on the table."

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, stressed
that "this President (Barack Obama) has shown again and again
that when he believes it is necessary to use force to protect
American national security interests, he has done so," but the
Israeli government might need stronger assurances.

Israel is trying to convey the message to the US
administration not only through the official channels but also
other means. Military intelligence chief Major General Amos
Yadlin visited Chicago recently to meet billionaire Lester
Crown, one of Obama`s supporters, and asked him to convey
Israel`s concerns to the US President, according to Goldberg.

"If the choice is between allowing Iran to go nuclear, or
trying for ourselves what Obama won`t try, then we probably
have to try," a senior Israeli official was quoted as saying.

Israeli military officials agree that it would be tough
for Israel to do it alone, but on the other hand, the
conclusion is Netanyahu might well risk this operation and
alienation of his closest ally if he becomes convinced Iran`s
nuclear bomb "represents a threat like a Shoah (Holocaust)."

For the Israeli Premier it is clear that the bomb will
not only strengthen Iran`s proxies, but will undermine
Israel`s status as a safe haven for Jews, embolden terrorists
all over the world and make the Arab countries more reluctant
to make peace with Israel, the report says.

Goldberg says that all the Arab officials he spoke to
didn`t think that the US administration truly understood
Iran`s ambitions.

"The best way to avoid striking Iran is to make Iran
think that the US is about to strike Iran. We have to know the
President`s intentions on this matter. We are his allies," one
Arab minister was quoted as telling Goldberg.

Dennis Ross, special adviser to the US President, told
the Atlantic magazine that imposing sanctions on Iran could
work, despite Israeli doubts, because the Iranian government
already faces public alienation.

PTI