Israel preparing strike on Iran?

By

The Times of London reports tenatatively yes:

ISRAEL'S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

AT's Douglas Hanson and others have noted the near impossibility of Israel being able to knock out Iran's nuclear program on its own. The problems are not simply the distance involved, the number of sites involved, and the degree to which those sites have been protectively located underground. The need to have on—the—ground intelligence to guide the prcision attack is a formidable barrier. But the door is left open for help:

'Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran,' Sharon warned recently. 'We have the ability to deal with this and we're making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.'
The order to prepare for a possible attack went through the Israeli defence ministry to the chief of staff. Sources inside special forces command confirmed that 'G' readiness — the highest stage — for an operation was announced last week.
 
Gholamreza Aghazadeah, head of the Atomic Organisation of Iran, warned yesterday that his country would produce nuclear fuel. 'There is no doubt that we have to carry out uranium enrichment,' he said.
 
He promised it would not be done during forthcoming talks with European negotiators. But although Iran insists it wants only nuclear energy, Israeli intelligence has concluded it is deceiving the world and has no intention of giving up what it believes is its right to develop nuclear weapons.
 
A 'massive' Israeli intelligence operation has been underway since Iran was designated the 'top priority for 2005', according to security sources.
This may all be black propaganda. But maybe not.
 
Hat tip: Clarice Feldman
 
Thomas Lifson   12 11 05
 
UPDATE
 
Douglas Hanson adds:
 
There are several contradictory elements in the Times article that lead me to think that it is an exercise in saber rattling.  One intelligence sourse said,
 
"If we opt for the military strike,' said a source, 'it must be not less than 100% successful. It will resemble the destruction of the Egyptian air force in three hours in June 1967.'
 
As I wrote last March, attacking Iran's dispersed, multiple nuclear facilities, many of them underground, in no way compares to Israel's air campaign in 1967 to knock out aircraft parked out in the open.  That such a comparison would come from a supposedly knowledgeable intelligence source renders this article suspect.
 
The article does attempt to address the requirement to have special operations target designation teams to validate intelligence data prior to air strikes and to get precision guided munitions on or near individual facilites and underground sites.  However, we learn that Israeli teams have already established bases in northern Iraq for gathering signals intelligence, and have started to conduct cross—border operations.  Let me see if I have this straight.  We have fought long and hard to establish a democracy in the former totalitarian state of Iraq, where a delicate political balancing act among strong willed and sometimes violence—prone Muslim sects has been achieved, and we now allow IDF special operators and the Mossad to set up a base of operations to infiltrate into Iran.  And now the UK Times has just exposed this covert operation to the entire world.
 
The notion of Israel establishing bases in Iraq is inane, and some Baathist diehard will attempt to make hay out of this article.  And it makes the Coalition's job that much harder just before the Parliamentary elections.  

The Times of London reports tenatatively yes:

ISRAEL'S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed.

AT's Douglas Hanson and others have noted the near impossibility of Israel being able to knock out Iran's nuclear program on its own. The problems are not simply the distance involved, the number of sites involved, and the degree to which those sites have been protectively located underground. The need to have on—the—ground intelligence to guide the prcision attack is a formidable barrier. But the door is left open for help:

'Israel — and not only Israel — cannot accept a nuclear Iran,' Sharon warned recently. 'We have the ability to deal with this and we're making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation.'
The order to prepare for a possible attack went through the Israeli defence ministry to the chief of staff. Sources inside special forces command confirmed that 'G' readiness — the highest stage — for an operation was announced last week.
 
Gholamreza Aghazadeah, head of the Atomic Organisation of Iran, warned yesterday that his country would produce nuclear fuel. 'There is no doubt that we have to carry out uranium enrichment,' he said.
 
He promised it would not be done during forthcoming talks with European negotiators. But although Iran insists it wants only nuclear energy, Israeli intelligence has concluded it is deceiving the world and has no intention of giving up what it believes is its right to develop nuclear weapons.
 
A 'massive' Israeli intelligence operation has been underway since Iran was designated the 'top priority for 2005', according to security sources.
This may all be black propaganda. But maybe not.
 
Hat tip: Clarice Feldman
 
Thomas Lifson   12 11 05
 
UPDATE
 
Douglas Hanson adds:
 
There are several contradictory elements in the Times article that lead me to think that it is an exercise in saber rattling.  One intelligence sourse said,
 
"If we opt for the military strike,' said a source, 'it must be not less than 100% successful. It will resemble the destruction of the Egyptian air force in three hours in June 1967.'
 
As I wrote last March, attacking Iran's dispersed, multiple nuclear facilities, many of them underground, in no way compares to Israel's air campaign in 1967 to knock out aircraft parked out in the open.  That such a comparison would come from a supposedly knowledgeable intelligence source renders this article suspect.
 
The article does attempt to address the requirement to have special operations target designation teams to validate intelligence data prior to air strikes and to get precision guided munitions on or near individual facilites and underground sites.  However, we learn that Israeli teams have already established bases in northern Iraq for gathering signals intelligence, and have started to conduct cross—border operations.  Let me see if I have this straight.  We have fought long and hard to establish a democracy in the former totalitarian state of Iraq, where a delicate political balancing act among strong willed and sometimes violence—prone Muslim sects has been achieved, and we now allow IDF special operators and the Mossad to set up a base of operations to infiltrate into Iran.  And now the UK Times has just exposed this covert operation to the entire world.
 
The notion of Israel establishing bases in Iraq is inane, and some Baathist diehard will attempt to make hay out of this article.  And it makes the Coalition's job that much harder just before the Parliamentary elections.