Analysis: Leaders hope talks will delay Iran strike

A tougher position on Iran has always been Israel’s strategy regarding the nuclear program.

April 9, 2012 01:30
3 minute read.
US Air Force F-15E releases a GBU-28 Bunker Buster

US Air Force F-15E releases a GBU-28 "Bunker Buster" 390. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)


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The upcoming negotiations between the West and Iran could be the last chance Israel is willing to give for diplomacy before pushing up the timeline of a possible military strike against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.

While highly skeptical, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak hope that Iran will agree to some sort of compromise that would allow Israel to put the military option on the back burner.

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Israel’s conditions for the talks – revealed last week in The Jerusalem Post and reiterated on Sunday by Barak – are meant to be stringent and more difficult to accept than the ones set by the US.

One main difference, for example, has to do with the uranium enriched to 3.5 percent levels. The US has not asked for the suspension and surrender of that uranium while Israel has.

A tougher position on Iran has always been Israel’s strategy regarding the nuclear program. While other countries, for example, talk about an Iranian decision to build the bomb as the line that would need to be crossed to justify military action, Israel talks about Iran’s entry into the so-called immunity zone.

The strategy has always been the same – set a higher bar so if a lower one is met it will also be acceptable.

If, for example, Iran were to accept some of the conditions presented by the US and a compromise was reached, Israel would likely fall in line with the rest of the world and scale down its saber-rattling. Israel would not want to be perceived as undermining what could become US President Barack Obama’s greatest diplomatic success.

The Iranians know this going into the talks and as a result, are expected to try and achieve a deal in which they give in enough to get the West and Israel to back off, but not too much that will make the regime lose its pride or its nuclear program.

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In the meantime, the IDF is continuing to plan for the next war – against Hezbollah and Hamas – that could potentially break out either following an Israeli strike against Iran or as a result of the ongoing upheaval in the region.

While both organizations recently announced that they will not automatically retaliate following a strike on Iran, Israel believes that the chances are high that both will lash out on Iran’s behalf.

Current assessments in the IDF predict that 15,000 rockets and missiles would be fired into Israel during a war that would last 21 days.

Israel hopes though to shorten the war to just a few days, a lesson learned from the Second Lebanon War in 2006 which lasted 34 days. The way to achieve this goal though will require a land campaign together with unprecedented aerial bombings of enemy targets, particularly of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

As revealed last week on Channel 10, in such a war the IDF estimates that 300 Israelis could be killed. If however, more missile defense systems are deployed – primarily Iron Dome for short-range rockets and David’s Sling for medium-range rockets – this number could be cut in half.

This, however, is all based on scientific analyses of the various war scenarios played out on the General Staff’s table. The problem is that if anything, the past decade has shown that when it comes to Iran, it is usually safer to bet on the unexpected.

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