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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What if there's a nuclear war between Iran and Israel?

What if there's a nuclear war between Iran and Israel? The results would not be pretty and Iran would probably end up getting a lot more Muslims killed than Jews according to Anthony Cordesman, the top strategic guru at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
This would mean, Cordesman suggests, some 16 million to 28 million Iranians dead within 21 days, and between 200,000 and 800,000 Israelis dead within the same time frame. The total of deaths beyond 21 days could rise very much higher, depending on civil defense and public health facilities, where Israel has a major advantage.

It is theoretically possible that the Israeli state, economy and organized society might just survive such an almost-mortal blow. Iran would not survive as an organized society. "Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of the term," Cordesman notes.

The difference in the death tolls is largely because Israel is believed to have more nuclear weapons of very much higher yield (some of 1 megaton), and Israel is deploying the Arrow advanced anti-missile system in addition to its Patriot batteries. Fewer Iranian weapons would get through.

The difference in yield matters. The biggest bomb that Iran is expected to have is 100 kilotons, which can inflict third-degree burns on exposed flesh at 8 miles; Israel's 1-megaton bombs can inflict third-degree burns at 24 miles. Moreover, the radiation fallout from an airburst of such a 1-megaton bomb can kill unsheltered people at up to 80 miles within 18 hours as the radiation plume drifts. (Jordan, by the way, would suffer severe radiation damage from an Iranian strike on Tel Aviv.)

Cordesman assumes that Iran, with less than 30 nuclear warheads in the period after 2010, would aim for the main population centers of Tel Aviv and Haifa, while Israel would have more than 200 warheads and far better delivery systems, including cruise missiles launched from its 3 Dolphin-class submarines.

The assumption is that Israel would be going for Iran's nuclear development centers in Tehran, Natanz, Ardekan, Saghand, Gashin, Bushehr, Aral, Isfahan and Lashkar A'bad. Israel would also likely target the main population centers of Tehran, Tabriz, Qazvin, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kerman, Qom, Ahwaz and Kermanshah. Cordesman points out that the city of Tehran, with a population of 15 million in its metropolitan area, is "a topographic basin with mountain reflector. Nearly ideal nuclear killing ground."

But it does not end there. Cordesman points out that Israel would need to keep a "reserve strike capability to ensure no other power can capitalize on Iranian strike." This means Israel would have to target "key Arab neighbors" -- in particular Syria and Egypt.
Read it all and pray Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs read it and internalize it too.


At 2:33 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Carl, the internalization by the arabs and muslims assumes that they are rational actors that will act in the best interests of their people. History flies in the face of this assumption.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Bret said...

I would think that Israel wouldn't waste quite all of their nukes on Iran. That would leave them awfully vulnerable to whatever vultures are flapping around after the their conflict with Iran. Perhaps killing 10 million Iranians would be enough of a retaliation.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Carl, the problem is that the mullahs in Iran don't care. If they can kill 2+ million Jews, and potentially destroy Israel as a state, they'll view it as a worthwhile exchange.

These are the people who invented suicide bombing; they'll see 100 million muslim casualties as "martyrs," and nothing more.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

You're all right.

BUT the Egyptians' and the Jordanians' governments are not Islamists and may not be willing to commit suicide to kill a couple of million Jews. The key has to be not to encourage them to get nuclear weapons themselves but to encourage them to oppose Iran. Mubarak and Abdullah aren't looking to be 'martyrs' even if the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the 'Palestinians' in Jordan might be happy to accommodate Ahmadinejad.

By the way, if you read through to the end of the article, you will see that it does in fact posit that Israel will not spend all its nukes on Iran and will leave some over for other countries.


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