Iranian Nuclear Crisis Nearing a Critical Tipping Point

Iranian Nuclear Crisis Nearing a Critical Tipping Point.

Iran Time is Running Out

Iran is edging closer toward its goal of nuclear weapons possession and is leading the already deeply unstable Middle East region down a path to a new crisis.

The warning signs are being drowned out somewhat by the horrors of the Syrian civil war and deteriorating unrest in Egypt, but they are present for any observer to see.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently voiced his concern that regional instability is causing the international community to take its eye off the swiftly-approaching Iranian nuclear crisis. “They’re getting closer” to the nuclear red line, Netanyahu told CBS’s Face the Nation. “They should understand that they’re not going to be allowed to cross it.”

Netanyahu stressed that the Israeli and U.S. clocks on this matter are “ticking at a different pace.”

While Jerusalem’s stated red line is an Iran in possession of 250 kilograms of enriched uranium, Washington’s undeclared red line is significantly further behind that of Israel’s. For the Obama administration, a trigger for action would be irrefutable evidence of an Iranian order to assemble a nuclear weapon.

There are multiple signals indicating that Iran is moving forward with the major components of its nuclear program, while keeping the level of its enriched uranium below a certain level to avoid triggering an Israeli military strike.

Iran’s nuclear trajectory is unlikely to be affected by Hassan Rouhani’s election as the new president, since he must defer all decisions on nuclear policy to the country’s unelected supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Only Khamenei can order the regime to cease Iran’s march towards nuclear weapons, and he has clearly refrained from doing so.

A growing chorus of international observers, including the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), noted that the twin policies being pursued by the United States and the international community – biting sanctions coupled with diplomacy – have failed to convince Khamenei to abandon the nuclear program.

Sanctions have taken a painful toll on the Iranian economy, contributing to inflation, the devaluation of the Iranian currency, and more than halving Iranian oil exports (from 2.6 million barrels a day in 2011 to 1.1 million barrels a day currently). And yet, none of these pressure points has caused Khamenei to budge.

Some defense experts in Israel have called into question President Barack Obama’s assurances that he will not allow Iran to go nuclear, and suggest that Washington is on an unintended course toward a policy of containment, not prevention.

Iran’s goal is to anaesthetize the international community until such time that it can present itself to the world as a nuclear-armed state, and transmit the message that its new status is a fait accompli.

According to Israeli assessments, Iran aims to ultimately arm itself with some 200 atomic bombs.

Iran hasn’t yet become a nuclear-armed state, but time is running out.

Iran’s deviously skillful delay and deceptions, its constant nuclear progress, together with the failure of the sanctions and negotiations approach, may well force a reluctant Israeli decision to take military action sooner, rather than later.

Israel views military action as the second least attractive scenario, as such a development would likely have a direct spillover effect on the entire region, which is already destabilized due to the Syrian civil war, and which is experiencing chronic sovereignty failures in several states, such as Egypt and Lebanon.

A military strike on Iran would almost certainly drag Israel into a confrontation with Hizballah (now deployed in both Lebanon and Syria), and end up forcing the Israeli military to engage hostile forces on multiple fronts simultaneously, such as Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces have been training intensively (as detailed below) for simultaneous, multiple-front warfare, marked by heavy rocket and missile attacks on the Israeli home front.

As unattractive as that scenario is, it is preferable to an even worse development for Israeli national security: A nuclear Iran.

Assembling the Iranian nuclear puzzle

As it engages the international community in a series of fruitless negotiations to buy itself time, the Iranian regime is carefully and consistently putting into place all of the components needed to acquire atomic bombs.

Iran’s steps, as confirmed by the IAEA, include: Installing faster centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow (the latter is borrowed deep into a mountain); working on a nuclear trigger mechanism at a facility in Parchin (where IAEA inspectors have been denied access for several years); and investing heavily in a delivery system, in the form of a medium and long-range ballistic missile program.

The Iranians are also working on a covert, parallel nuclear program, to create atomic bombs from plutonium. The heart of this program is based at the Arak heavy water facility.

And yet, when it comes to amassing enriched uranium, Iran is staying behind a red line, one Netanyahu drew at the United Nations last year. Netanyahu made clear that Israel would spring into action if Iran came to possess 250 kilograms or more of medium enriched uranium (MEU), enough material to create one atomic bomb after the MEU is converted to highly enriched uranium (HEU). The process of converting MEU to HEU is relatively straightforward and easy for a country that has mastered the production of low and medium enriched uranium.

In 2012, just as Iran began to approach Netanyahu’s red line, it converted 113 kilograms of its uranium stockpile to nuclear fuel, thereby stepping back from the brink, and decreasing international tensions. As of May this year, Iran began approaching the red line again, stockpiling 182 kilograms of MEU, according to the latest IAEA report.

All the while, Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium (LEU), the first and most difficult phase of a nuclear weapons program, continues to grow. Israel estimates that Iran has at least 6.5 tons of LEU.

Hence, Iran is carefully calibrating its uranium enrichment levels, while moving forward in all other nuclear program fields to a phase where it can breakout to the atomic bomb phase at short notice.

Publicly, Israel has signaled that the trigger for potential strike lies with the quantity of MEU in Iran’s possession. However, in light of the progress Iran is making in many other spheres of the nuclear program, one cannot rule out the existence of additional, unannounced red lines, such as Iran’s plutonium-based nuclear efforts.

In the line of fire

Israel is far more threatened by a nuclear Iran than the United States, for the following reasons: Its small size; the concentration of millions of Israelis in cities on the country’s coastal plain; its regional proximity to Iran; and the fact that Israel is the object of an obsessive ideological-religious covert war waged by the Iranian regime against it, which has included an ambitious Iranian armament program designed to turn southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip into rocket launching bases.

Israel, the target of annihilationist Iranian rhetoric issued by top regime figures on a regular basis, has a smaller window of opportunity to strike Iran than the U.S., and would have to move earlier than Washington because of its more limited long-distance strike capabilities.

The core of the Israeli defense doctrine holds that Israel cannot depend on any foreign power, even its most trusted ally, to deal with developing existential security threats.

This means that if Israel misses its window of opportunity to act, it would violate a central tenet of its own defense doctrine. The very fact that Israel hasn’t launched a strike yet is evidence that the window of opportunity for Israeli military action remains open..

However, daring and successful covert operations, such as Stuxnet, the most advanced computer virus in history, and the mysterious blasts that have killed key members of the Iranian nuclear project in Tehran and elsewhere, have caused temporary delays at best.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned that Israel must prepare for the possibility of striking Iran’s nuclear program on its own, and called the Iranian nuclear threat “the most significant” to Israel, the Middle East and the “modern world.”

Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz, said recently that “time is running out. We have only a few months. The danger is a global one, which will change the face of history. Iran could have hundreds of atomic bombs and hundreds of long-range missiles.”

The past two years have seen tighter Israeli-American coordination and cooperation on Iran. These have been led by the national security advisors of both countries, Tom Donilon and Yaakov Amidror, both of whom have recently resigned.

Additionally, the recently-retired US Army’s Central Command Chief, General James Mattis, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had no doubt Israel would act if and when Iran crossed a nuclear red line, and that it is able to do so without US assistance.

Mattis also bluntly told the committee that economic and diplomatic efforts are failing.

Envisaging a strike

According to foreign reports, Jerusalem possesses a feasible attack plan that can cause major damage to Iranian nuclear sites, and which can set back the country’s nuclear program by a number of years.

The Iranian regime would be able, however, to reactivate the program and resume its efforts if an agreement with the international community to freeze future nuclear activity is not reached.

Although nothing is known of the strike plan, it is possible to envisage a few possibilities. Multiple aerial routes are available for Israeli aircraft to reach targets in Iran. In any attack route, the Israel Air Force would probably have to neutralize or evade the radar systems of transit countries.

According to foreign reports, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has more than 100 F15i and F16i fighter jets that can fly to and Iran and return without needing to refuel, and which can carry large payloads.

Foreign reports also say Israel possesses long-range Jericho ground-to-ground missiles, which can theoretically strike targets in Iran.

Israel also possesses the advanced midair refueling capabilities required for carrying out sorties over multiple Iranian targets situated between 1,500 and 2,000 km. away from home.

Possible targets include uranium- enrichment sites at Natanz and Qom, the uranium- conversion plant at Isfahan, and a heavy water reactor in Arak.

Once over Iran, the IAF would need to paralyze Iranian air defenses, possibly employing advanced electronic warfare capabilities, and deploy bunker-busting bombs against nuclear sites, which are reportedly in its possession.

Israeli intelligence satellites could provide real time detailed images from the battle arena, while fleets of giant Heron 2 drones, which have the wingspans of Boeing 737 commercial airliner, could carry out intelligence in Iranian skies as they hover over the launching sites of Iranian Shihab-3 missiles.

Israel Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile batteries can intercept Shihab-3 barrages from Iran (the Arrow 3 system, which intercepts incoming ballistic missiles space, is not yet operational).

On the ground, Iran would order Hizballah to respond to a strike with an onslaught of rockets on the Israeli home front.

Israel’s solution to this threat involves devastating air force strikes using new weapons systems and a lightning ground invasion of southern Lebanon to quickly extinguish the rocket threat and dismember Hizballah as a fighting organization.

Yet several unknowns remain, such as the impact a strike would have on the Syrian arena, home to Hizballah and Iranian military forces.

While Israel has no desire to activate its military option, it will never agree to living under Iran’s atomic shadow.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

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32 Comments on “Iranian Nuclear Crisis Nearing a Critical Tipping Point”

  1. Luis Says:

    Very good lines. We want to point out some highlights, with your permission : ”fleets of giant Heron 2 drones”, ”advanced electronic warfare capabilities”, ”long-range Jericho ground-to-ground missiles”, ”Israel Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile batteries”, ”dismember Hizballah as a fighting organization” and, finally, ”While Israel has no desire to activate its military option, it will never agree to living under Iran’s atomic shadow”. These ideas are the essence of what are we dealing with in the last years and also sound like elements of a good plan, either.

  2. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    Luis lets hope it is enough.-

  3. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    Obama uses EU to confront Israel with tough interlinked choices: borders or nuclear-armed Iran

    I,am not surprised i have seen this coming for a long time.

  4. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    John Bolton: Israel should have attacked Iran ‘yesterday

    “I can understand why Israel wants us to take action, but the longer Israel waits for something that is not going to happen, the greater the danger Israel is in,” the senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said.

    During his first term, President Barack Obama implied that the US would not resupply Israel with weapons used in attacking Iran, Bolton said. He added that overwhelming congressional support would have forced the issue of resupplying Israel in any case.

    Now he thinks the situation has changed and the issue is whether the US would take the necessary measures to make the case that Israel was acting legitimately in self-defense.

  5. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    But there is a iftar meal in the pentagon !

  6. Louisiana Steve Says:

    Still, I cannot keep wondering if Iran has deceived everyone into thinking they do not YET have a nuke when they actually have one or more. I agree with Luis that all these points about Israel’s military capabilities are encouraging but one more important point I would have liked to see…”Mossad will know the exact time when this red line is achieved by Iran”.

    I quote, “This means that if Israel misses its window of opportunity to act, it would violate a central tenet of its own defense doctrine. The very fact that Israel hasn’t launched a strike yet is evidence that the window of opportunity for Israeli military action remains open.”

    To me, intelligence is the key and I hope Mossad’s is impeccable. This is such a war of nerves. Personally, I would have bet the pot a long time ago. But then again, we are talking about so many precious Israeli lives. What a terrible decision to have to make.

    • Joop Klepzeiker Says:

      Israel misses its window of opportunity to act 6 years ago

      The gamble on the outcome of the usa election was a mistake.

      Possible a fatal one.

      But please let me be wrong , absolute wrong !

  7. John Prophet Says:

    When Israel was young, brave and forward leaning it had the repect of the world. Once Israel areed to Oslo and disengament it lost its forward leaning and started to back peddle. It’s enemies saw this as weaknes and began to push. The more it pushed the more it got “goodwill gestures” being an example. The more Israel gave the weaker it appered. Now the whole world is pushing Israel because it know Israel will fold and give some more. Israels enemies by not givig an inch and standing its ground is pushing Israel into the sea. There is only one way for Israel to stem the tide.
    Take bold action against its enemies. Facts on the ground will then shut up the world!!!!

  8. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    Let me play the advocate of the devil

    If you was iran , How will you retaliate after an attack from Israel ??

  9. John Prophet Says:

    There will be blood! Evil wins when good fears the consequences of righteous action..

    Where would the world be today if the allies feared to invade Europe because men would die!!

    Where will Israel be tomorrow if Iran has hundreds of atomics?

    Answer me that..

    • Joop Klepzeiker Says:

      A question on a question is not an answer.

      Please answer me for the sake of making clear that it is not simple.

      If you give your opinion on a possible retaliation i will give one of my opinions.

  10. John Prophet Says:

    Joop, it means war! Iran will unless what it has.

    • Joop Klepzeiker Says:

      Yep , but let me giver you a possibility.

      I,am playing iran at the moment.

      This is what i would do !

      Dear brothers in our beautiful believe in the almighty allah and his prophet the dirty Jews attack your mo slim brothers.

      Take your wives your children and march to Israel, no arms but only whit water and food., so we show them we are peaceful. .

      200,000 no a 1,000,000 people start walking to Israel.

      Who stop them to protect Israel ?

      The usa
      The nato
      The un
      Other mo slims

      And how do you stop this amount of man women and children

      At the borders of Israel the start tearing down fences atc , what can Israel do whit out the full back up from the rest of the world.

      Shoot them ??

      The world would not accept that no , there will be an invasion of idiots from all over the world to support this people.

      That is why i say to cut of the tentacles from iran first, the iranian people would not march against Israel alone

      I know complete out of my mind, but i know a little bit about the mind set of the mo slims if you feed them enough religious shit the will walk. and fueling this feelings whit an attack ????

      There is a lot more than just military solutions.

      And all factors BIBI has to put into the quotation.

      A hell of a job.

      But again , Israel has to do what it has to do to survive, and i do not know what is right at the moment, i,am to stupid , to ill informed to know anything for sure.

      • Luis Says:

        They can do this at any time. We call this ”peaceful jihad” and its on the cards from the beginnings. Its also being considered an act of war because somebody wants to cross your border without your permission. Solutions are and were implemented in the past.

  11. IAmSpartacus Says:

    @ Steve: You make a valid point about Iran already being in possesion of a couple of nukes; rumor has it that Iran purchased 2 or 3 tactical nukes from one of the former Soviet republics in central Asia, back in the ’90s. It’s also been thought that the N Korean nuke test earlier this year may have actually been a test detonation of an Iranian nuke device; a lot of Iranian scientists were present for the test.

    • Joop Klepzeiker Says:

      mm, I see here a solution, if iran shows a nuke and says it will use it or used it, it will open the door for a complete all out international justified reaction from Israel , it will cost Israel dearly perhaps they have to take one hit.

      But i,am very sure that no nuke rocket will explode on Israel soil, but somewhere in the sky above the middle east.

    • Louisiana Steve Says:

      My sentiments exactly. If true, it would indicate Iran is engaging in a massive cover up to prevent a pre-emptive strike from Israel and to buy time for secondary strike capability. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  12. John Prophet Says:

    Joop, it means war! Iran will unleash what it has!!

    Your turn…

  13. John Prophet Says:

    “There is a lot more than just military solutions.”

    Joop, this would have been so much easier for Israel if it took action years ago, but it was all other options that stayed Israels hand . Those option have failed. There is only one fork now left in the road for Israel.

    • Joop Klepzeiker Says:

      I see another solution impeach obamadrama and get a real president., but hurry up, time is short.

      ( oke i,am dreaming )

  14. John Prophet Says:

    “There is a lot more than just military solutions.”

    Joop, this would have been so much easier for Israel if it took action years ago, but it was all those other options that stayed Israels hand . Those options have failed. There is only one fork now left in the road for Israel.

  15. IAmSpartacus Says:

    @ Joop: I’m afraid that impeaching Obama (as nice as that would be!) wouldn’t help much, then we’d be stuck with befuddled old Uncle Joe Biden, a man with a proven track record of being consistantly wrong on every single foreign policy issue of the last 30+ years.

  16. Isaac Says:

    Somehow, I think Israel should go against Iran after giving a fatal blow to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah will be unable to retaliate from Lebanon and it’s too busy now in Syria..
    Yes, because any action against Iran, Iranian government will order their proxy militias to retaliate. This, for sure. Now, will Iran itself retaliate? Not sure about it. Maybe some missile here and there, but they like to fight with foreigner blood.

  17. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    Let me try to do some more strange mind games.

    first @ John

    You know John all young people on the beaches of Europe fought for freedom and justice against the one reich idiot and the Jew killer under saying once and never again.
    Oke we did trow some country, s under the Russian bus for peace

    But we end up 70 years later whit an one eu reich and still trowing Jews under the bus, not a Russian bus but a islamitic bus.

    We call that progress.

    So now i trow saudi in the quotation.

    Saudi has 4 problems

    1) iran
    2) Israel ( yep it are mo slims )
    3) There place in the new world as Islamic power.
    4) the oil has to flow

    How can you solve this problems smart and cheap.

    Forced Israel in a corner so they have to take on Iran and in the same time Israel will destroy a lack of world support.
    Saudi promising the world oil and support for the big plan, in the same time selling oil as water get his place by given them a free entrance to our society,s and they can expand there influence and by keeping buying oil from them. we keep this game and the mo slims alive.
    ( mo slims not selling oil no food and no food is unrest )

    And why we are keeping this game alive because we using the mo slims to control the population and in time more and more in the western world.

    And the mo slims are very handy to keep a tighter grip on russia and china, the middle east is nothing else than just a factor in circling russia and china.
    ( and destabilization )

    So we end up in time whit one world reich and where Israel will be , learn something from historic events.

    Do you recognize something ??

    A bending president as example.and a complete objective un for an other example.

  18. Joop Klepzeiker Says:

    Is Israel forced to do saudi,s dirty work ?

    If you want to be the islamitic leader of the world you can not kill to much mo slims openly, better to let the Jews do it for you.

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