Israeli Ambassador slips up: War plan against Iran

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Israeli Ambassador in Australia slips up and mentions Israeli war plans for Iran in one month's time. Realising his mistake he then orders media to stop filming and cameras to be turned off "A realignment of forces that can handle and can addre...

Israeli Ambassador in Australia slips up and mentions Israeli war plans for Iran in one month's time. Realising his mistake he then orders media to stop filming and cameras to be turned off

"A realignment of forces that can handle and can address the main strategic challenge that we're all going to face in the upcoming month, and that's going to be Iran.

An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program "will most probably take place before 2009", western intelligence sources say. Israel now has completed the planning of three or four scenarios for an attack, and is now said to be contemplating the right time for it. Israel concluded early June that an attack would be inevitable. Since then, Israeli Air Force exercises have been underway, even using a US airbase in Iraq.

Credible sources indicate that the assumed 'necessity' of an Israeli attack is derived from three estimates: the first is that Iran, according to Israeli intelligence, will have nuclear missiles operational by the late summer of 2009; the second is that diplomacy and a package of economic incentives and sanctions will not bear sufficient fruit; the third is that an attack by the end of 2008 or later will result in insufferable losses.

Sources say the Israeli scenarios are based upon a recent decision by the country's government and military, that a peaceful solution is extremely improbable. The assumption that unilateral action without overt US military support will be necessary, given the probable inability of the US to open and keep up a third theatre of operations alongside those in Afghanistan and Iraq, is supposed to have played a significant part in the recent decision.

Furthermore, Israeli government circles interpret a recent US Navy exercise of the Aegis missile defense system's communications in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, as a clear sign of limited US involvement -the US has not sent carrier groups closer to the Strait of Hormuz, as recently requested by Israeli PM Olmert. President Bush gave Olmert the 'amber light' (i.e. veiled approval without immediate action) for an attack, and thus from an Israeli perspective confirmed the need to act anyway.

Israel's military planners see a rapidly closing window of opportunity: an attack must essentially be air-based, and since Iran will have its Russian-purchased S-300 air defence systems fully operational by year's end, an attack after that is believed to result in too many losses to ensure minimal success. The S-300 systems can take out aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet, with great effectiveness. Hence the planning: if non-military means dont work, then military means must be deployed before 2009.

Last month's Israeli exercise over the Mediterranean, code-named 'Glorious Spartan', took place in cooperation with the Greek military. Greece uses the S-300 air defence system, and thus the exercise can be expected to have provided Israel with valuable information about that system.

According to sources familiar with Israeli planning, 'minimal success' is defined as the elimination of the five or six nuclear facilities that are the most essential in Iran's program of at least nineteen facilities, as well as the elimination of two facilities where Iran is working on modifying its ballistic Shahab-3 missiles for nuclear warheads. If this 'minimal success' is achieved, then Iran's offensive nuclear capability will be set back by at least a decade.

Nuclear experts estimate that the current number of nuclear centrifuges operated by Iran will provide sufficient enriched uranium for two or three one-ton nuclear warheads that, if fired at Tel Aviv, would kill 22,000 - 50,000 people and obliterate most of the city, thus taking out the heart of Israel's infrastructure on most levels.

According to military analysts, the total destruction of Iran's nuclear program is not an option since the scale, locations and defences of the entire Iranian program would require commitment of such a vast number of Israeli military assets that the operation would weaken Israels forces necessary to check Syria, Jordan and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

Attack within weeks?

Sources would not comment on an intel rumour that an Israeli strike is to be expected in the near future -there is talk of "weeks". This rumour is based on the fact that Iran in recent months hastily began upgrading its current air defence systems, as well as on the expectation that the upgrade will be integrated and fully operational within weeks from now, thus raising possible Israeli losses in case of an attack.

Intel rumours that a strike may come soon are furthermore fed by the fact that Iran is nearing completion of its P2-type nuclear centrifuge which decimates the time needed to enrich uranium.

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