`US, Israel mulling surgical strikes on Iran`

Rothkopf quoted his source as saying about "a joint US-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities."

Last Updated: Oct 09, 2012, 14:54 PM IST

Jerusalem: The US and Israel are "zeroing in" on the possibility of mounting a "surgical strike" against Iran`s nuclear installations that could last for a day or two, an American expert has said.

David Rothkopf, in an article published by the Foreign Policy Magazine, cited a "source close to the discussions" as saying that the aerial strike "might take only a couple of hours in the best case and would involve only a `day or two overall."

Rothkopf, who has served in the Clinton administration considered close to high-ranking officials in the Obama administration, also said that the threat of such a strike just might "have a chance of deterring the mullahs".

Rothkopf quoted his source as saying that that the option discussed at this time is based on "a joint US-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities."

Such an operation would involve mostly bombers and drone support, the report said.

Rothkopf said that the advocates of this policy within the administration believe that it would not only achieve the immediate goal of creating a substantial setback to Tehran`s nuclear programme, but it is also likely to be "more politically palatable" within the US.

Such a move would bear region-wide benefits, "Saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come," the article said.

Rothkopf also argued that posing a credible threat of attack, perhaps in lieu of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s demand for "clear red lines", may actually prove to be "a useful diplomatic tool; and perhaps a political one, too."

The international relations expert stressed that while such an approach may limit the costs of a full-fledged US military campaign in Iran, its complexities still prevent Israel from mounting a unilateral strike, for operational reasons if nothing else.

"To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordo, would require bunker busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering," he said.

"The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others," he contended.