'US thinks Iranian retaliation would be calculated'

Retired US general tells 'NY Times' the last thing Iran would want is a war on its home front, warns Tehran's war-time thinking cannot be fully predicted; Israeli official: Iranian retaliation would hit Israel, overseas.

February 29, 2012 11:25
1 minute read.
IRGC launches surface-to-surface missile [file]

Revolutionary Guards launch surface-to-surface missile 390 R. (photo credit: Rauf Mohseni/Reuters)

Officials in Washington believe that any Iranian response to a possible Israeli attack against its nuclear program would be calculated and limited, but warned that such predictions cannot be taken as fact.

Even after a military strike against it and its nuclear program, Iran would act carefully not to invite a full-scale war on its own territory. "The Iranians have been pretty good masters of escalation control," retired US General James E. Cartwright told The New York Times in a report published Wednesday.

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While the Times cited US and Israeli officials saying the last thing Iran would want is a war on its home front, the officials admitted that it would be impossible to predict the thinking of Iran's leadership in wartime.

Tehran's retaliation against Israel, one former official in Jerusalem told the Times, could be understood through a formula he described as "1991 plus 2006 plus Buenos Aires times three or five," referring to the Gulf War, the Second Lebanon War and the attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets in Argentina.

Meanwhile, a security official in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post that Israel can defend itself against barrages of Iranian long-range missiles.

Arieh Herzog, who recently stepped down as head of the Defense Ministry’s Homa Missile Defense Agency, told the Post that while there “is no such thing as 100 percent defense,” the Arrow missile defense system is fully operational and capable of providing an adequate defense against Iran’s Shahab and Sajil ballistic missiles, in an interview marking his retirement several weeks ago after a 12- year term that will appear in full in Friday’s paper.

“The Iranians have the ability to launch barrages and that is an important part of their capabilities,” he said.

“But we are prepared and have the ability to intercept those barrages if they are launched.”

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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