Friday, June 6, 2008

If Israel Attacks


Israel has maintained secrecy about its nuclear weapons program. Officially, the Israeli government had maintained a policy of “deliberate ambiguity,” saying only that Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into a Middle Eastern war. This carefully worded statement was designed to avoid having to deny that Israel actually possesses nuclear weapons.

Still, along with India and Pakistan, Israel is one of the three sovereign states possessing nuclear weapons that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Israel made this decision simply to avoid lying about the nuclear program the world knows it has.

The existence of the Israeli nuclear weapons program was first disclosed by Mordechai Vanunu in the London-based Sunday Times, on 5 October 1986. At that time, Vanunu was a thirty-one-year-old Israeli who had worked for ten years in a top secret underground bunker at Dimona in the Negev Desert, the site of Israel’s nuclear reactor and the country’s nuclear research establishment.

Vanunu published a series of photographs in the Sunday Times, which permitted international nuclear weapons experts to determine that Israel possessed a sophisticated nuclear arsenal, estimated to rank as the sixth most powerful in the world, behind America, Russia, Britain, France, and China, but ahead of India and Pakistan.

Since the 1950s, the United States had refused requests from Israel to help build the country’s nuclear capabilities. Israel got the assistance required from France, which built the Dimona reactor and supplied Israel with the plutonium-extracting technology which was required to transform the Dimona reactor from civilian purposes into nuclear weapons capability.

Studying Vanunu’s photographs, nuclear experts in 1986 estimated that Israel might have as many as 100 to 200 nuclear weapons of varying capacities. This was more than ten times what experts had estimated prior to Vanunu’s revelations. For smuggling a camera into the Dimona secret facility and taking more than sixty photographs, Vanunu was convicted of treason. In April 2004, Vanunu was finally released, after serving eighteen years in prison, including eleven years in solitary confinement. Estimates in 1997 placed the number of Israeli nuclear weapons at some 400 thermonuclear and nuclear weapons.

Before her death in 1978, Prime Minister Golda Meir told friends that suicidal thoughts had plagued her during the Yom Kippur War. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement for the Jewish people. It is the year’s holiest day. Prime Minister Meir referred to the surprise attach by Egypt and Syria. The initial forays by Israel’s two enemies were disastrous. Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defense, is said to have called for nuclear bombs to be put aboard fighter planes and nuclear warheads placed on Israel’s Jericho missiles. He wanted to be ready should the attacking Arab states reach the point-of-no-return in endangering the State of Israel.

Dayan was gravely fearful that the attack would result in the destruction of what he referred to as the “third Commonwealth.” The first had been destroyed by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans.

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger prevailed on President Richard Nixon to assist the Israelis by providing weapons and ammunition in the most massive airlift since the Berlin Airlift following World War II.

Israel’s nuclear weapons have always been considered the core of what has commonly been known as the Samson Option. The strategy is named after the biblical story of Samson using his great strength to bring down a temple, killing a great number of enemy Philistines, as well as himself, in the process. Israel has sworn “never again” in relation to the possibility of another Holocaust. Given this determination, the Samson Option postulates that Israel would be willing to use extreme measures if the country’s survival were at stake.

In the crisis with Iran, the Samson Option has been used to mean that Israel would attack Iran in a preemptive war and would be willing to use nuclear weapons. Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons is seen as a threat to Israel’s continued existence. In other words, Israel would be willing to attack Iran even if the result of an Israeli preemptive strike ended up being retaliation by Iran that ended up with Israel’s destruction. The Israelis judge that destruction in a military conflict with an aggressor like Iran would still be better than doing nothing and waiting to be destroyed. Passivity in the face of aggression has always been judged to be a mistake the European Jews made against Hitler. In extreme situations, Israel can be expected to attack, rather than to delay too long. This is why Israel’s patience for negotiations with the mullahs can be expected to run out. Israel knows the mullahs are trying to buy time and that time in this crisis works against Israel.

Analysts argue that Israel’s current nuclear arsenal opens up many strategic possibilities short of the Samson Option.

Israel has the type of relatively low-yield tactical nuclear weapons that can be selectively fired to eliminate specific targets. Low-yield “tactical nukes” could be used to hit the type of hard-ended underground centrifuge farm which Iran has built at Natanz to enrich uranium.

Israel’s larger nuclear warheads have been adapted for the Jericho series of missiles. Israel first began developing these missiles with French assistance in the 1960s. The Jericho II is a solid fuel, two-stage missile that Israel has test fired into the Mediterranean Sea at ranges estimated at around 1,300 kilometers (800 miles).

Reportedly, Israel has had a multi-stage Jericho III under development, more truly an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of around 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles).

Israel also has cruise missiles which can be adapted with nuclear warheads, such as the Popeye Turbo which is designed to be air-launched from Israel’s F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. The Popeye Turbo can also be launched from the three Dolphin-class submarines the Germans built for Israel.

While details of the Israeli nuclear arsenal remain highly classified, analysts believe Israel can launch relatively low-yield tactical nuclear weapons from the air and sea via Israel’s fighter aircraft and submarines. Conceivably, Israel could mix tactical nuclear weapons delivered via fighter aircraft with cruise missiles fired from sea. Higher-yield nuclear warheads deliverableby Israel’s Jericho II missiles would most likely be held in reserve, waiting to see what retaliatory responses Iran launched and how the war escalated from the initial attack.

The above is an excerpt from Dr. Evans’ book Showdown with Nuclear Iran.

All of those who send a donation of $50 to help create Jerusalem prayer teams throughout the world will receive an autographed copy of the book.Click here to make your gift.

Your Jerusalem World News:

Your Save Jerusalem Site:

No comments: