Special Section Issue 8, Winter 2011
Israel's Former Mossad Chief Warns More than Once that an Israeli Strike on Iran will Lead to a Regional War
A former head of Israel's Mossad, Meir Dagan, says that if Israel will attack Iran, it will be dragged into a dangerous regional battle that will also be joined by Hizbollah (Lebanon) and the Hamas (Gaza) who, together with Iran, will launch a torrent of missiles against Israel. Such a war will claim a huge number of lives and bring normal life in Israel to a halt. "Such a war would take a heavy toll in terms of loss of life and would paralyze life in Israel," Dagan said.
A month earlier, Dagan had said publicly, "The military option is far from being the preferred option for Israel. There are now tools and ways that work much more effectively."
A retired Israeli general Amos Yadlin also made a public statement that if Iran continues in the development of military nuclear capacity, the international community will still have a variety of options to stop Iran. "If the Iranians decide that they are continuing with nuclear weapons, … Israel is not alone in the game and will not be the main player.
Meir Dagan said in a television interview that "a military strike will result [not only] in massive rocket attacks from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas," but that in such a scenario, "Syria may join in the fray."
Reactions around the World
Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign-policy chief, said through a spokeswoman, "Overall these findings [the IAEA report confirming Iran's aim at nuclear weapons] strongly indicate the existence of a full-fledged nuclear weapons development program in Iran."
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, called the new report "alarming," and called for negotiation and sanctions but ruled out a military response.
A former Finnish deputy director general at IAEA confirmed the report but expressed some doubt about Iran's capacity in the immediate future to produce a nuclear weapon.
Dr. Olli Heinonen was a Finnish nuclear scientist who spent 27 years at the IAEA and served as deputy director general of the agency before leaving for Harvard last year. He was in charge of inspecting Iran's nuclear facilities and met with the directors of Iran's nuclear program. The latest report hardly surprised him.
"There is not much new information," Heinonen wrote to
Haaretz in an email. "The bottleneck is and remains in uranium enrichment," he wrote. "As the report shows, progress is still slow." He stressed that the key would be the success with the introduction of more advanced centrifuges." In this regard it remains hard to make an educated guess about when Iran will be able to produce its first nuclear bomb. "The next year until the end of 2012 is crucial," Heinonen added.
A professor at the Norwegian Defense University College in Oslo expresses, even ironically, even more severe doubts that Iran is on the verge of an operational nuclear weapon system because, in his opinion, "There are too many people in Iran who oppose such a capability. In general, Iran's movement toward nuclear weapons has been erratic."
The Oslo professor continues: "The IAEA's recent assessment of Iran's nuclear program judges that Iran studied several applications of a weapons program prior to 2004. It suggests that Iran is slowly moving closer to a nuclear capacity. However, the report does not contain a smoking gun... Iran's erratic nuclear advances over the past decade suggest that there is no consensus about whether and when to develop a nuclear weapons capability. While it is possible that Iran could develop fissile material for a nuclear weapon within weeks or months, such a high-risk move would require a consensus that does not currently exist in Tehran."
Notwithstanding huge concerns around the world, there is a serious risk the world will simply 'live' - or live and die - with a nuclear Iran. A report from Reuters surmised: "Any military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would exact an economic price too high for the world to accept, and as a result the international community would likely acquiesce to a nuclear Iran, said a leading Israeli investment firm yesterday."
How Much Damage Will There be from a Nuclear Threat in Israel?
In Israel, not surprisingly, there is a large ferment of differences of opinion as to whether Iran should or should not be attacked.
What has been surprising is that this difference of opinion has included widely differing views as to the extent of casualties that Israel would suffer if Iran attacked Israel with a nuclear weapon.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted quite amazingly as saying that there would be no more than 500 dead- although he added the condition that this would be the case if all Israeli's were kept inside their homes. Clearly, however, the logic of known experience of atomic weapons in Japan says otherwise decisively.
reporter Yossi Melman estimated the damage to Israel of an atomic bomb as follows: "If a 'small' bomb of 10 kilotons (about as powerful as the bombs dropped on Japan) explodes over Tel Aviv's city hall in a radius of around 500 meters, everything, buildings and people, would be melted and vaporized. There would be nothing left south Jabotinsky Street, east of Dizengoff Street, north of King Saul Boulevard and west of Ichilov Hospital. Up to 30,000 people would die.
"Within the next radius - up to 1,200 meters covering an area east of the each, west of Namir Road, south of the Yarkon River and north of Sheinkin Street, most buildings would be destroyed, burying some 30,000 beneath them. There may be survivors, but there would apparently not be anyone to take care of them. The third radius would reach 2,500 meters; huge fires would rage there. No one would be available to put them out. One could speculate that in an attack on Tel Aviv some 80,000 people could die. An equal number would die painful deaths over the next few months.
"And who says Iran would launch just one bomb at Israel and not two or three?"
Melman concluded his report.
Extra Extra: Roger Cohen of the International Herald Tribune Now Approves of a Clever War on Nuclear-Bound Iran
In the original IRAN NUCLEAR WATCH material for this issue that follows below, readers will find the reaction of
International Herald Tribune columnist Roger Cohen, who for sometime has been very much in the forefront of denying that Iran had nuclear weapons ambitions, and has opposed vehemently any consideration of intervention in Iran.
Cohen now makes a major shift without acknowledging his earlier misjudgment that Iran was not arming for military nuclear power. While he continues to denounce the evils of the United States and Israel, amazingly he pulls himself up to approve a 'silent war' against Iran. Cohen is now in favor of all the 'secret war' measures being taken -- "cyberware, drone killings, executions, and strange explosions at military bases."
"The Obama administration has a doctrine," writes Cohen. It's called the doctrine of silence. A radical shift from President Bush's war on terror, it has never been set out to the American people. There has seldom been so big a change in approach to U.S. strategic policy with so little explanation.
"In Iran, a big explosion at a military base near Tehran recently killed General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, a central figure in the country's long-range missile program. Nuclear scientists have perished in the streets of Tehran. The Stuxnet computer worm has wreaked havoc with Iranian nuclear facilities. It would take tremendous naivete to believe that these events are not the result of a covert American-Israeli drive to sabotage Iran's efforts to develop a military nuclear capacity. An intense, well-funded cyberwar against Tehran is ongoing."
"I approve of the shift even if it makes me uneasy," concludes Roger Cohen (bold italics by GPN)
Braut-Hegghammer, Malfrid (November 29, 2011). The real lesson of Iraq. International Herald Tribune.
Cohen, Roger (November 29, 2011). Doctrine of silence. International Herald Tribune.
(November 29, 2011). Former Mossad chief: Israeli strike on Iran will lead to regional war.
Harel, Amos, and Melman, Yossi
(November 30, 2011). Meir Dagan: If Israel attacks Iran, she will be
dragged into a total regional war. Haaretz (Hebrew).
Melman, Yossi (November 10, 2011). Iran's ticking bomb. Haaretz (English)
Melman, Yossi (November 17, 2011). A not-so-bad apocalypse. Haaretz (English).
Reuters (November 11, 2011). International community more likely to accept nuclear Iran than pay high cost of war. Reprinted by Haaretz (English).