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Home > English > Opinion > Israeli Nuclear Facilities at Risk from Iranian Counterstrike

Israeli Nuclear Facilities at Risk from Iranian Counterstrike

Mutual nuclear attacks imperil region

Sunday 12 February 2012, by Matthew J. Nasuti (Former U.S. Air Force Captain)

If Israel starts a preemptive war and attacks Iran’s nuclear sites, it is a certainty that Iran would immediately counterstrike Israel’s nuclear facilities. This “eye for an eye” exchange could go badly for Israel. The potential radiological impacts within such a tiny country would be devastating.

The American airwaves are currently filled with arm-chair generals who boast that Israel will “take-out” the Iranian sites. They claim, based on their nonexistent expertise, that Iran will do nothing in response. This is simply fantasy. It is the same amateurish analysis that predicted that the United States could invade Iraq and then withdraw in three months time with its mission accomplished.

The New York Times reported on January 29, 2012, that strategic thinking in Israel is that Iran will not begin a major war if Israel launches limited strikes against its nuclear facilities. Israel’s analytical intelligence skills in the region have had a spotting record over the years. In fact, no one knows the extent of the Iranian response, but one thing is certain: Iran (perhaps in conjunction with Hezbollah) will at least respond in kind with immediate missile strikes on Israeli nuclear facilities.

The Times (of London) reported in June 2008, that Israel’s plutonium reactor, located near the city of Dimona, was a priority target for Iran’s strategic missile forces, specifically its batteries of long-range Shhab-3 missiles, just as they were for Iraqi Scud missiles in 1991 during the first Gulf war. The Dimona complex reportedly consists of eight plutonium and other radiological sub-sites that are designated Machon 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10.

Other Israeli nuclear targets include:

1. The Rafael Armaments nuclear weapons facility north of Haifa, just outside of Kiryat Yam;

2. Palmachim Air Base, south of Tel Aviv, which houses some of Israel’s Jericho III ICBMs and apparently their warheads; and

3. The Nahal Sorek reactor and nuclear research site in the Judean Hills.

The final initial target would likely be the joint U.S./Israeli radar site located within the Har Keren Army Base in the Negev. These targets can be identified after ten minutes of Internet research.

This nuclear “contest” would pit thousands of advanced Iranian and Hezbollah missiles that almost certainly have some type of anti-ABM countermeasures (decoys, chaff and other devices), against an array of anti-ballistic missiles that include the Patriot III and Israeli Arrow or Hetz. It is impossible to predict the results of such an exchange. Israel has already announced that it would shut down its reactors before attacking Iran, but that still leaves both the active and spent nuclear fuel rods as tempting targets, along with the enrichment facilities, weapons assembly plants and nuclear stockpiles for their estimated 400 warheads. To be effective, Israel’s anti-missile screen would have to protect sites from Haifa to the Negev. Thus, Iran merely has to hit 1% of its missiles targets, while Israel has to be 100% successful in order to prevail.

While Israel has been improving its ABM defenses, the Iranian have shifted to low flying (non-ballistic) cruise missiles and reportedly have provided the same to its Hezbollah allies. Israel’s ability to shoot down such cruise missiles appears limited.

A review conducted in 2008 entitled: “Should Israel Close Dimona? The Radiological Consequences of a Military Strike on Israel’s Plutonium-Production Reactor” sets out numerous scenarios wherein radiation leaks and releases could have significant and perhaps dire medical, economic, social and psychological implications on the State of Israel. These issues are not currently being discussed in the U.S. media, which is depicting Israeli “surgical” attacks as easy, successful and inevitable, with no significant regional or international risks.

Remember that the Dimona reactor is just south of the city of Dimona with its 30,000 residents. Depending on the prevailing wind direction, the nearby city of Beersheva could also be at risk following a nuclear attack.

The core issue that the Western news media has refused to credibly analyze is, Why did Israel develope such a large nuclear arsenal? The argument that Israel needs to protect itself does not address the massive cost of Israel’s decades-long nuclear weapons program. The actual reason is more likely that Israel needed to counter and deter Iran from using its existing nuclear warheads. The Kabul Press detailed this in its 2011, report, “EXCLUSIVE: Iran’s Black Market Nuclear Warheads Are an Open Secret.” Similar reviews were published by both The Washington Times and Pravda. While secrecy is important sometimes, excessive secrecy is debilitating.

The most dangerous scenario for Israel is that Iran has shipped several of its tactical nuclear warheads to Lebanon under the control of its Qods personnel and that these are designed to fit onto Hezbollah ballistic missiles and explode high above Israel. The goal would not be to affect physical damage, but solely to generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Such a pulse could push Israel back into the pre-industrial, pre-electricity age because it would fry most electronics, immobilizing virtually all modes of transportation. It would open Israel up to land, sea and air attacks.

During the early 1980’s, Israeli officials proposed that the Reagan Administration negotiate with Iran. Such negotiations were successful because both sides obtained some of the benefits they were seeking, despite their acrimonious public rhetoric. Israel and Iran have serious security concerns regarding the other, as do the United States and Iran. As the business of the Middle East is business, negotiations are still a viable option. To-date, such negotiations have never been seriously pursued.

Part of the problem is that the U.S. Department of State does not negotiate, it merely lectures. The United States’ foreign policy has increasingly been limited to military strikes and invasions because its diplomatic efforts have been feeble and unimaginative. Secretaries of State no longer meet and discuss anything with either friends or foes, they simply want to fly into countries for one-day photo opportunities where they can sign meaningless agreements previously negotiated by staff members. The annual Afghan conferences are one example.

A true accord with Iran would require extensive personal efforts by Secretary Clinton and other, including President Obama, and would almost certainly require one or both to travel to Tehran, with additional meetings being held in Western venues. These would be risky negotiations, but such risks are necessary because the mutual destruction of the nuclear facilities of both Israel and Iran is an unthinkable alternative.


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