Israel will “almost surely” strike Iran’s nuclear sites in the coming months — and if the conventional attacks fail to destroy or at least delay Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East will face a nuclear war.
That’s the view of Benny Morris, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, who predicts either a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange after Iran gets the bomb.
“Should Israel’s conventional assault fail to significantly harm or stall the Iranian program, a ratcheting up of the Iranian-Israeli conflict to a nuclear level will most likely follow,” Morris, author of “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War,” writes in the International Herald Tribune.
“Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran will reach the ‘point of no return’ in acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in one to four years. Which leaves the world with only one option if it wishes to halt Iran's march toward nuclear weaponry: the military option, meaning an aerial assault by either the United States or Israel.”
The U.S. has the military capability to do the job. But given Iraq and Afghanistan, the American public is not likely to approve of increasing U.S. military action in the Middle East, Morris observes.
“Which leaves only Israel - the country threatened almost daily with destruction by Iran's leaders,” he writes. “The period from Nov. 5 to Jan. 19 seems the best bet, as it gives the West half a year to try the diplomatic route but ensures that Israel will have support from a lame-duck White House.”
But it is unlikely that Israeli conventional forces will succeed in destroying or significantly delaying the Iran nuclear project, according to Morris.
Nevertheless, Israel will “certainly make the effort,” he believes. And the Iranians will likely retaliate by attacking Israel’s cities with ballistic missiles.
That would leave Israeli leaders with two agonizing choices: One, to allow the Iranians to acquire nuclear weapons and hope for a nuclear standoff, with the prospect of mutual assured destruction dissuading the Iranians from launching a nuclear attack; or two, to use the Iranian retaliatory strikes as a justification for using Israel’s nuclear arsenal to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Morris concludes: “Thus an Israeli nuclear strike to prevent the Iranians from taking the final steps toward getting the bomb is probable.”
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