Israel’s Position on Iran

Monday, August 17, 2009

STRATFOR.COM Diary Archives

Israel’s Position on Iran

ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES Michael Oren told CNNs Fareed Zakaria on Sunday that Israel is “far from even contemplating” a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. He went on to say that Israel supports U.S. President Barack Obama’s opening to Iran. The Israelis had been extremely concerned about Iran, but Oren said the immediate concern had dissipated because “we were greatly comforted during the prime minister’s visit here in May, when the president told him, assured him, that there would be a serious reassessment of the policy before the end of the year. We are further reassured now that the end-of-the-year deadline has been moved up to September.” Oren said that a series of serious sanctions are now being considered.

It is hard to know what Israel’s position is on Iran any longer. The Israelis have said so many contradictory things over such an extended period of time that the tendency is to dismiss their public statements. The paranoid among us can construct a theory in which the Israelis are deliberately trying to confuse everyone. Those of us who speak to Israelis tend to think that they are themselves confused. Nevertheless, Oren’s statement does seem to be in keeping with Israel’s intent and capabilities — and with a looming crisis with Iran in September.

We have always been of the view that Iran’s ability to deploy a nuclear device is far from imminent. Moreover, Israel is incapable of delivering a sufficiently large attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities because of airspace issues, the distance, the number of sorties required and the fact that Israel lacks the means to counter Iran’s nuclear response — which would be mining the Strait of Hormuz. The size of the target set vastly outstrips Israel’s capability.

“The Israelis cannot count on Iran’s reaction, and being responsible for a global economic meltdown is not something that Israel really needs.”

This is a point we have made in the past. Readers have chided us by pointing out that Iran would be as badly hurt as any other state by closure of the strait. We agree with that. However, many of the same readers frequently argue that Iran would launch a nuclear strike against Israel regardless of a devastating Israeli counterstrike. It is a little hard to imagine that Iran would not be deterred by nuclear annihilation, but would be deterred by an economic crisis. In any event, the Israelis cannot count on Iran’s reaction, and being responsible for a global economic meltdown is not something that Israel really needs. The threat would have to be far more immediate for them to strike.

But again, Israel draws our attention to an American commitment in September. That obviously has to do with the G-8’s decision to impose harsh measures unless the Iranians agree by Sept. 20 to come to the negotiating table. Given that Russia is part of the G-8 and that both Russia and China must agree to participate in the sanctions for them to have full effect, it is not clear what usefulness the sanctions will have.

Oren, the ambassador, is signaling that the Israelis are confident in the sanctions that would emerge from the next G-8 meeting. It is very difficult to imagine what those sanctions might be. There could be a blockade of Iran, for example, but would the U.S. Navy board Russian or Chinese ships? And what would the Iranian response be? If Iran was blockaded, would that be sufficient provocation to attempt to mine the Strait of Hormuz?

The Israelis are saying that they are not about to strike Iran because of sanctions being considered in September. We would say that Israel is simply sandbagging, and that when fairly weak sanctions are imposed, they will be freed for action, having given diplomacy its best shot. But in our view, Israel’s ability to carry out strikes with a high degree of assurance and negate the possibility that the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf will not be interrupted is fairly low.

Any meaningful sanctions regime against Iran would have to include a military component, ranging from a blockade to strikes against naval facilities. The probability of Russia and China participating is low, and therefore supplies will continue to flow into Iran at some level. Yet the Israelis have announced that they are comfortable. The one thing that Israel never is, is comfortable.

We continue to focus on late September for clarification of the mystery.

Israel ‘far from’ striking Iran: Envoy

Obama’s War Signals: Iran in the crosshairs:

Warmongers who sold you the Iraq war are pushing for a war with Iran:

AIPAC propagandist Dennis Ross moves over to the National Security Council (NSC) for coming war with Iran:

Zionist Organization of America Pushing Hard for US war with Iran (for Israel of course!):

Lieberman: Attack May be Only Option on Iran

Anyone can take a look at following Dutch doco if they don’t think AIPAC is pushing for war with Iran (note what former Colin Powell assistant Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says about WW III near the end if Iran is attacked)!:

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