Editor's Note: Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
Over the past week, there has been an avalanche of news reports in the Israeli and Western media about the possibility of an imminent Israeli or American strike on Iran's nuclear installations. These reports were triggered by a report on Iran's nuclear program set to be published by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency later this week.
According to the media, the IAEA's report will deal a devastating blow to Iran's persistent claims that its illegal nuclear program is "peaceful." Specifically, the IAEA report is expected to divulge information about Iran's efforts to develop and test components that have no plausible use other than the production of nuclear weapons. These activities include experimentation with triggers used only for detonating nuclear weapons, and the development of missile warheads capable of carrying nuclear weapons. They also include the design of computer simulation programs to test nuclear weapons.
Most nuclear experts claim that Iran currently has sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to produce four or five nuclear weapons. They also claim that it will take Iran another three years to develop a fullblown nuclear arsenal. Finally, Israeli and Western sources claim that in light of Iran's bid to develop hardened, underground nuclear sites, its nuclear installations will be immune to ballistic missile attacks or aerial bombing within a year.
Confronting Iran's rapidly developing nuclear capabilities, Israeli hawks and doves are united in their view that Israel's preferred option is for the US rather than the IDF to launch a military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. This view is reasonable because the US has the military capabilities to destroy Iran's nuclear program completely and do so with minimal risk to America's international prestige and position.
Moreover, if the US, rather than Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations, Israel will be able to devote all of its own resources to fending off missile and ground assaults from Iran's proxy regimes in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Between them, Hamas, Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Assad have some 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel. For the past two years Hizbullah has been planning a ground offensive against northern Israel in conjunction with a missile offensive. Syria has chemical weapons.
If as expected, Iran unleashes these forces in response to a strike on its nuclear installations, the IDF will have its hands full.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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