An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could end that country’s weapons program, a report said.
The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies asserted that an Israeli destruction of some of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure could mobilize U.S. and international pressure on Teheran not to rebuild these facilities. The report, authored by a leading U.S. strategist, said the Israeli military operation could also generate internal opposition against the Teheran regime.
“The other way in which the aftermath of a limited Israeli attack could lead to a permanent end to the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons is if the attack indirectly led to a popular overthrow of the revolutionary regime that now rules Iran,” the report, titled “What Would the U.S. Do if Israel Defied It by Attacking the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program?” said.
Author Max Singer, a longtime U.S. defense consultant and founder of the Hudson Institute, maintained that in contrast to conventional thought a successful Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would not result in condemnation by the United States or many of its NATO allies. Singer said Washington would try to use the Israeli strike to stop Iran’s rebuilding of weapons facilities.
“If Israel strikes Iranian nuclear weapons facilities, the paramount American national interest would be dissuading the Iranian regime from rebuilding its nuclear program — not punishing or isolating Israel,” the report, dated April 11, said. “Condemnation of Israel would be counterproductive, encouraging Iran to conclude that they can get away with rebuilding their nuclear facilities.”
On April 16, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said his military was capable of destroying Iranian nuclear facilities without assistance. Gantz said the military and government were engaged in frequent discussions of the military option against Teheran.
“The Iranian challenge is a meaningful one,” Gantz told Israel state radio. “We must look at it strategically long-term. We will do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.”
The report said Obama’s visit to Israel in March 2013 was meant to elicit a government commitment not to attack Iran without Washington’s approval. Singer said Iran could probably repair damage from an Israeli air strike “in perhaps six months to a year.
“Consequently, the most important interest of the U.S. in the wake of an Israeli strike would be to dissuade the Iranian regime from restarting its program of building nuclear weapons,” the report said.
Another scenario was that lack of international condemnation of an Israeli air strike would embolden Iran’s opposition, neutralized since presidential elections in 2009. The report said Israel’s destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities would signal to the opposition the weakness of the Teheran regime.
Singer called on the Obama administration to discuss with Israel a post-strike scenario. He said the administration should pledge to support Israel even if it attacks Iran without U.S. approval.
“In addition, an American promise to support Israel after an unapproved strike might even have the effect of preventing an Israeli strike, because such a promise would increase Israel’s willingness to believe that it can rely on the U.S. to prevent an Iranian bomb if Israel refrains from striking,” the report said. “There is no public evidence that the U.S. government has in fact addressed these questions, whether in discussion with Israel or within its own closed doors. This appears to be a serious gap in policy-making about the Iranian crisis.”