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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Israel Faces Tough Choices

Washington — As Israel continues to proclaim its readiness to launch a military attack on Iran should American diplomacy fail to stop Tehran’s drive for nuclear capabilities, an increasing number of analysts and some political leaders are publicly questioning Jerusalem’s confident portrayal of its chance for military success.

Their concerns, based on sober analyses of Israel’s known capacities and the scope of the challenge it would face, are crystallized in a recent 114-page paper by Anthony Cordesman and Abdullah Toukan, senior scholars at Washington’s Center for Strategic & International Studies. They have produced what is regarded as the most detailed public study thus far of the challenges Israel would face.

Their conclusion: Chances of a strong success — defined by how much of Iran’s uranium enrichment program is destroyed or the number of years the attack delays Iran’s acquisition of material sufficient to build a nuclear bomb — seem dubious, while the risks of the undertaking and its harsh military and destabilizing geopolitical consequences seem overwhelming.
“The number of aircraft required, refueling along the way and getting to the targets without being detected or intercepted, would be complex and high risk, and would lack any assurances that the overall mission will have a high success rate,” the authors write of Israel’s military prospect.

Cordesman — a former national security adviser to Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona — is considered among the leading analysts on the Middle East and American military and strategic policy. Toukan was an adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan.

In Israel, growing fear of a nuclear Iran, stoked by escalating rhetoric in Tehran and Jerusalem, has moved half of all Israelis to support an immediate Israeli strike against Iran, without waiting for the United States to complete its attempt at diplomatic engagement, according to a recent poll by Tel Aviv University’s Center for Iranian Studies.

Read it all here.

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