Friday, June 11, 2010

Saudi Arabia Gives Israel Green Light for Preventive Military Srike on Iran

About three years ago, Whitney Raas and Austin Long, MIT doctoral candidates, published "Osirak Redux? Assessing Israeli Capabilities to Destroy Iranian Nuclear Facilities." I love this piece, mainly because it realistically --- and unapologetically --- sets the intellectual table for an Israeli preventive attack on Iran. The authors analyze all kinds of difficulties, for example, the operational logistics facing the Israeli Air Force; potential defensive emplacements and anti-aircraft systems of Israel's enemies; and the political-diplomatic impediments to an Israeli strike. The military-logistical analysis comprises the first few sections of the article. But at page 17 the authors discuss "possible attack routes." They discuss three: A northern route, over the Mediterranean to Turkey then Iran; a northeastern route, over Jordan and U.S.-occupied Iraq; and then a southeastern route, along the Iraq-Saudi border. Raas and Long favor the second route as strategically favorable, but politically unlikely. And they suggest that the third route would pose the most logistical problems in terms of refueling and Israel would face the most advanced anti-aircraft batteries among any of the three options.

But now, according to a new report from the Times of London, Jerusalem won't have to worry about evading Saudi forces in the event of a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. See, "
Saudi Arabia Gives Israel Clear Skies to Attack Iranian Nuclear Sites":
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran. To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.

The targets lie as far as 1,400 miles (2,250km) from Israel; the outer limits of their bombers’ range, even with aerial refuelling. An open corridor across northern Saudi Arabia would significantly shorten the distance. An airstrike would involve multiple waves of bombers, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest.

The Obama administration has refused a green light for an Israeli Iraq flyover, although the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has not ruled out military action. The U.N.'s latest round of sanctions are just a political sop to the peace movement and
won't do a thing to halt Iranian nuclear proliferation.

Frankly, about the only thing stopping Israel, I would imagine, is the guaranteed worldwide condemnation of a unilateral strike by Jerusalem. The question is at what point will Israel place national survival above the risk of futher diplomatic isolation?


Stogie said...

Donald, your posts lately are substance on steroids! This is a good example. Excellent analysis!

AmPowerBlog said...

Sometimes I have more time to write, Stogie, and then I can. Appreciate the feedback and readership as well. Thanks.

Tom the Redhunter said...

Let's hope this is true and Israel does in fact strike. From where I sit this is the only option available to slow down Iran.

It's unfortunate, too, because our policy should have been regime change, and we should have succeeded. But if that didn't work, the US military should strike. Only we have the capability to put the Iranian nuclear program out of business.

The problem is that the Iranians have done a pretty good job at dispersal and burying their nuclear assets. All Israel has are F-16s and 15s, which are limited in what they can carry, and Israel doesn't have the latest ordinance. More, Israel will only get one strike, and that will not be enough.

What is needed is a campaign of 2-3 weeks, carried out by 2-3 carrier borne aircraft, B-1s, B-2s, the whole bit.

More, understand that Iran won't sit still after a strike, whether by the U.S. or Israel. They'll attack tankers in the gulf, and try to mine the waters like they did during the Iran-Iraq war.

And understand that they don't have to succeed to do damage; just the attempt to sink tankers will drive up the price of petroleum.

So the U.S. will inevitably be drawn into the fighting, even if it's only Israel that strikes.

Further, they'll unleash their terrorist assets around the world, with completely unpredictable results.

So although I'm in favor of an Israeli strike, it's going to be messy.

Bob Belvedere said...

Quoted from and Linked to at: