"We judge that the introduction of nuclear weapons into the Near East would increase the dangers in an already dangerous situation and therefore not be in our interest. Israel has 12 surface-to-surface missiles delivered from France. It has set up a production line and plans by the end of 1970 to have a total force of 24–30, 10 of which are programmed for nuclear warheads." - Henry Kissinger
While a furious effort was underway in August of 2015 by Israeli lobbying groups in the United States to scuttle the Iran deal - they are all operating on the premise that US-Israel retains the option to conduct a military attack on Iran to stop or delay an Iranian nuclear program. However, neither the ZOA, NOPAC, or Washington beltway Iran hawks - can tell anyone - what a US-Israeli attack on Iran would look like - or what outcome(s) it would produce.
While they are free to oppose the
Iran deal, one must ask the last question first; will US-Israeli military action (a war) stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?
[Above] The 'Jericho' was started in the 1950s with assistance from Dassault.
Israeli survival has never (ever) depended on a “better”
Iran nuclear deal.
So those in the US Congress and elsewhere who oppose a negotiated deal are effectively either:
- Totally ignorant.
- Parroting the Israeli governments (a foreign entity) official policy of deliberate ambiguity regarding its nuclear weapons.
- Forced to maintain a position that Iran is not a rational agent.
In all cases, this precludes these voices from being taking seriously.
Some historical contexts is warranted here. History tells us the question is not will (will) Iran retaliate for a US-Israeli attack - but simply - in what manner will Iran retaliate. The Iranians did not sit back and absorb Iraqi airstrikes during the Iran-Iraq War. Iran went on the offensive within hours of the first Iraqi strikes on 22-Sept 1980, the IRIAF launched coordinated retaliatory strikes to hit Iraqi airfields near Baghdad and Basrah and includes the first (the first) successful attack on the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor on 30-Sept 1980 eight days later. This joint operation was followed eight (8) months later by Israeli jets on 06-Jun 1981. (During the first attack an Iranian RF-4E took real-time photos of the reactor which were later shared with Israel as the Americans were supporting Iraq during the war. Iran and Israel cooperated in other areas during the war also.)
The Iranians did not target the main reactor because of radiation release concerns (prevailing winds blow east). This successful IRIAF deep-penetration strike on the Iraqi nuclear facility has been all but forgotten by Western analysts, historians, and defense press. Iran might be a lot of things - but irrational isn't one of them.
The American Patriot Missile System was widely reported (and shown) intercepting Iraqi Scud missiles over Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. Indeed, then US President George H.W Bush exalted the Patriot for this "achievement." An investigation after the war concluded that Patriot hit one (1) or - none - of the Iraqi Scud warheads. This includes a Scud that hit the barracks of a US Army detachment in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on the night of 25-Feb, 1991. Seventeen (17) years after the war, Raytheon (builder of Patriot) literature continued to assert that Patriot missiles had destroyed Iraqi Scuds. No less than forty-two (42) Patriot missile rounds were fired at Iraqi Scuds during the war - for perhaps one (1) or zero (0) hits.
We all understand that information/disinformation control during wartime can be vital, but fraudulent industry assertions 17 years after the fact - illuminate a vastly different problem.
Raytheon has introduced PAC-3 upgrades to address the issues of 1991 while Iran has moved beyond Scud-class 'Ghauri' Mach 5 capability.
Israel-US possesses no real defense against an Iranian counter-attack from hundreds of Iranian mobile-MRBM class weapons. Both the Israeli ‘Arrow’ anti-ballistic missile system the American Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system claim "successful tests" but remain unproven. Israels 'Arrow' system hit no Hezbollah rockets in 2006. ‘Iron Dome’ cannot deal with targets of nearly 1-ton traveling upwards of Mach 3, and no amount of USN Aegis SM-2/SM-3 destroyers in the Persian Gulf or the Mediterranean can stop all the Shahab-3 (Sejil-2) rounds. Israel-US has tried to bolster 'Iron Dome' with Patriot interceptors - but it's hopeless. No air/missile defense system is perfect. We think under actual combat conditions the probability of interception/destruction of in-flight Iranian mobile-MRBM by all US-Israeli missile defenses to be no greater than 30%. The speed of the Sejil-2 is Mach 13, while Shahab-3 is closer to Mach 7. Terminal reentry speeds are lower but still high. Simply too many Iranian mobile-MRBMs will get through.
The exact nature of Iran's missile forces is not well understood - with a dizzying array of missile name, designation, and configuration changes. Iran's years of isolation make accurate appraisal difficult. Western military planners best assume robust Iranian capability out to at least ~ 2000 km (~ 1240 mi).
This then shifts the burden of offensive
US power projection onto the U.S. 5th fleet, and American long-range B-1B, B-2, B-52H, (KC-135, KC-10) Tomahawk, and Cruise missile forces.
An Israeli attack might be possible from her submarines. Again IDF-AF bases are out of the fight - with the Israeli Air Force needing to operate from bases well outside Iranian mobile I/MRBM ranges or forced into aircraft dispersal off-base.
Iran’s air bases were designed and built by the Americans to power-project into the USSR during the Cold War. They were also designed to survive an attack by the Soviets. Taking out these American made Iranian bases could prove difficult. Iran can obviously also leverage aircraft remote dispersal away from its airbases. It is no accident that the IRIAF’s tactical response, target selection, combat tactics, and order of battle - would be consistent with an American air arm. No accident.
To attempt to neutralize Iranian underground facilities using special deep-penetration munitions, one must get fixed-wing aircraft over (or near) the targets.
[Below] Test of the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) in 2009. The Northrop B-2 can carry two (2) GBU-57s.
Because the distances involved are so great, and sorties times very long – sustained
US fixed-wing strike intensity will be “not high.”
Expect the use of decoys by Iran. This technique has proven to highly effective throughout history and can produce enormous problems for an opponent attempting to make authentic assessments and targeting decisions. Because decoys produce a sufficient degree of uncertainty - typically they must be attacked regardless in order to alleviate that uncertainty. Aluminum paint formulations or wire mesh under the skin can produce a compelling "radar-target " and decoys can even produce faux heat sources to fool in the IR spectrum.
Iran against the US Navy in the Person Gulf.
25-Feb 1991 Scud attack on 14th US Army Detachment, – all multiplied 100 fold - to know what could occur. We believe the Iranian Navy would be neutralized relatively quickly by the Americans - however, due to the confines of the Persian Gulf and its proximity to the IRIAF and Iranian anti-ship missile forces (even if most of the IRIAF is out of action), expect the bulk of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia US 5th fleet surface ships in a major confrontation with Iran - overwhelmed - listing - and on fire.
[Above] Mobile ballistic missile decoy which the payload can be raised and lowered. [Below] S-300 SAM launchers also employing decoys. Launch tubes can also be raised (firing position) and lowered (transport) like the real ones. Effectively anything can be a decoy including buildings and hangers.
[Above] The LPPU-83 is a self-propelled decoy using a PT-76 light tank chassis and the actual launch tubes from expended missile rounds - to mimic parts of the S-300 SAM system series. Decoys can include faux radar-emitters keyed to the radar they are defending to draw the attention of anti-radiation weapons away from real assets. A decoy can be made of nearly any material imaginable.
Due to Iran's years of isolation, the exact nature of improvements-modifications made in Iran to its aircraft is not well understood in the West. So true IRIAF capabilities remain difficult to assess. The Iranian Air Force is however widely regarded as one of the better air forces in the Middle East. We'd place IRIAF pilot skill and combat proficiency more akin to a Western air arm, and well above that of say - the PLAAF (the Chinese Air Force).
[Above] Along with the Phantom (front) Iran also operates a number of overhauled/derivative Northrop F-5 fighters (back). F-5 performance is similar to the Mach 2 MiG-21. The F-5 is simple, small, fast, and nimble, The F-5 is still in service in many countries around the world as a light fighter. [Below] The F-14AM of the IRIAF. Iran may operate ~ 50 of these powerful fighter-interceptors. This includes ingeniously-produced reverse-engineered upgraded AIM-54 'Phoenix' missiles to arm them. Much more on the F-14 in Iranian service here.
[Above] IRIAF MiG-29A 'Fulcrum' firing its 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon. The IRIAF operates ~ 30 MiG-29A. The purchase was a stop-gap measure after the Iran/Iraq war until the time Iran's existing Western inventory could properly overhaul in country. American and Israeli aircrews are today more concerned about the Iranian F-14AMs, Su-24MKs, and F1EQ than the MiG-29A. [Below] Dassault Mirage F1-BQ. Together with the F1EQ5/6, Iran operates ~ twenty F1s as part of a contingent of ex-Iraqi aircraft that "evacuated" to Iran at the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War. This F1-BQ has been overhauled with a new blue paint scheme and drop tanks from the F-5.
[Below] Mobile Iranian anti-ship missile.USS Vincennes incidence, the Iranian counter-attack on the US airbase at Al-Assad, and the
[Above/Below] The USS Stark (FFG-31) guided-missile frigate after being struck by two (2) AM-39 Exocet missiles fired from an Iraqi Mirage F1EQ/Falcon 50 on the night of 17-May 1987 while the ship was on patrol. The first Exocet punched through the Starks hull near the port bridge wing, spewing 1,920 C (3,500 F) rocket-propellant and smashed into the chiefs’ quarters - its warhead failing to explode. The second Exocet, which hit ~ 1.5 meters (5 feet) forward of the first, detonated as designed incinerating crew quarters, the radar room, and the ship's CIC (Combat Information Center). A quarter of the crew was incapacitated in the attack with 29 Americans killed instantly (8 more dying later) with an additional 21 injured.
After the attack, the Stark was no longer mission capable. The Iraqi pilot knew how to maneuver and approached an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate in a manner (using the ships' radar blind spot) to employ his weapons. US Navy planners best assume IRIAF knowledge of American surface-ship weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.
[Above] On 03-July 1988 the American Ticonderoga-class ‘Aegis’ guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49) mistakenly shoots down a civilian Airbus A300 (IA 655) over the Strait of Hormuz that kills all 274 passengers and crew. While engaging Iranian gunboat surface targets, in the span of just four (4) minutes the A300 is detected, misidentified, and attacked by Vincennes. This ambiguity (known as “the fog of war”) under the intensity of real-world operational conditions under compressed timeframes, remains ever-present. A major confrontation with Iran would increase these factors by 100. [Below] Aftermath of the 25-Feb 1991 Iraqi Scud attack on 14th US Army Detachment, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia - killing 28 Americans and injuring 98. The area was under the protection of a Patriot missile battery at Dhahran.
These sprawling, costly, strategic facilities use extremely reactive chemical compounds designed to stay contained during an earthquake, but not from a near-hit (read: blast pressure wave) of a one-ton Shahab traveling upwards of Mach 5 - or pelted with MRBMs cluster-warhead sub-munition(s). Semiconductor fabrication facilities could represent irresistible targets for Iranian planners.
Suffice it to say these facilities will be forced to evacuate for the duration of hostilities - causing unacceptable monetary losses and logic supply disruption. These strategic American facilities need to be moved out of the region for this reason alone.
So putting it all together - let's do the numbers for an Iranian response to a US-Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites:
Let us assume that Iran only fires one-hundred (100) Shahab-3 (Sejil-2) MRBM weapons within 6 hours of a US-Israeli strike.
Let us further assume that 60% of Shahab-3s fail to hit their targets (for all reasons) due to malfunction/ interception by Israeli Arrow, USN Aegis SM-2/SM-3 destroyers, and other air defenses.
Because no air-defense system is perfect, this leaves forty (40) ‘Shahab-3’ hitting Israeli and US installations including the entire Arabian peninsula.
Count with me up to forty (40) - and imagine an Iranian mobile Shahab-3 MRBM hitting Israeli and US installations each time:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ...
by eight (8) the military embarrassment and political price at home in the US – is already too high.
9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15...
And this is just the Shahab-3s...and Iran has not 100, but over 200. Never mind a myriad of other longer/shorter-range missiles as well.
Not a very appealing prospect for the Americans and her thousands of military service personnel - while Israel sits on a nuclear deterrent (and an official policy of deliberate ambiguity) Jericho ICBM force.
While no fans of the Iranian regime, when one actually looks at the mechanics of a massive US-Israeli strike on Iran, it is militarily and politically - unworkable.
Kissinger letter here
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