'Israeli strike on Iran won't end nuclear program'

US defense analyst says Israel can't eradicate Iranian nuclear weapons; 5 scientists who helped design Bushehr killed in plane crash.

bushehr_311 reuters (photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)
bushehr_311 reuters
(photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)
Israel could cause extensive damage to Iran’s nuclear program but would not succeed in eradicating it in a future military strike, leading American defense analyst Anthony Cordesman said on Thursday.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, Cordesman also said that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was alienating Israel from the rest of the world and was a liability for Israel and the United States.
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Cordesman is a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and served in the past as director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“You can achieve short-term gains but the basic structure of the Iranian efforts would remain and such a strike would do more to catalyze support of the program in Iran than undermine it,” Cordesman said of a possible Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“It would not threaten the regime and while Israel might achieve some gains, it would not be able to restrike [if it is rebuilt].”
“There is a very hard target mix and the problem is that there is a lot we don’t know about the system and there is not a lot of unclassified reporting on Iran’s program,” he said.
“If they [the Iranians] had any willingness to consider this, they would have enough redundancy and reconstitution capability so that a single strike would not have long term effects.”
Last year, Cordesman wrote a paper arguing that the US ties to Israel were not based primarily on strategic interests but rather on moral and ethical reasons. At the time, he wrote that Israel “at the best of times” provides some intelligence and some minor advances in military technology.
He said that Israel needed to use the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East to work toward peace with the Palestinians as opposed to Israel’s current strategy, which he said was to stall for time.
“We cannot afford confrontations between Israel and the Arab world,” he said. “Pushing away from the peace process and a foreign minister that constantly confronts the Arab world and alienates you from the world is a liability for us.”
Meanwhile Thursday, news reports broke that five people killed in a plane crash in northern Russia on Tuesday were Russian scientists who had helped Iran design its Bushehr nuclear reactor.
Reports said 45 people were killed in the crash and Russian security sources confirmed that five of the dead were nuclear scientists who had worked with Iran, according to The Daily Mail.
The British paper identified one of the dead as Andrei Trokinov – one of Russia’s top nuclear scientists.
Despite the presence of the scientists on the plane, investigators said the crash was the result of bad weather and pilot error, not foul play.