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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Israel could use tactical nuclear weapons on Iran

The Washington Post reports that a Washington think tank suggests that Israel could use tactical nuclear weapons in a strike against Iran.
Despite the 65-year-old taboo against carrying out -- or, for that matter, mooting -- nuclear strikes, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says in a new report that "some believe that nuclear weapons are the only weapons that can destroy targets deep underground or in tunnels."

But other independent experts are on record warning that such a scenario is based on the "myth" of a clean atomic attack and would be too politically hazardous to justify.

In their study titled "Options in Dealing with Iran's Nuclear Program," CSIS analysts Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman envisage the possibility of Israel "using these warheads as a substitute for conventional weapons" given the difficulty its jets would face in reaching Iran for anything more than a one-off sortie.

Ballistic missiles or submarine-launched cruise missiles could serve for Israeli tactical nuclear strikes without interference from Iranian air defenses, the 208-page report says. "Earth-penetrator" warheads would produce most damage.
Israeli officials are downplaying the possibility saying that they will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the region.
President Shimon Peres has said repeatedly that "Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region."

A veteran Israeli defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said preemptive nuclear strikes were foreign to the national doctrine: "Such weapons exist so as not to be used."
The article also raises the possibility that the United States could use tactical nuclear weapons, but says that it does not expect this to happen and that the United States is likely to prevent allies from using them as well... if they can.
"Who could predict what might happen next if (the) taboo on the use of nuclear weapons were to be broken?" wrote former CIA director Stansfield Turner. "Getting tactical nuclear weapons under control, rather than attesting to their use by building new ones, should be our goal."

Princeton University physicist Robert Nelson assailed the idea that tactical nuclear weapons, detonated below ground, would pose tolerable risks for civilians and the environment.

"This is a dangerous myth. In fact, shallow buried nuclear explosions produce far more local fallout than air or surface explosions of the same yield," he argued.

Sam Gardiner, a retired U.S. air force colonel who runs wargames for various Washington agencies, said an Israeli decision on using non-conventional weapons against Iran would come down to how far its nuclear program was to be retarded.

Israel supports efforts by world powers to rein in Iran -- which denies seeking the bomb -- through sanctions, and some experts say any pre-emptive Israeli strike would aim to jolt international diplomats into finally knuckling down on Tehran.

"If a 3-to-5 year delay were the Israeli objective, I expect it would drive their target people to say the only way it could be done is with tactical nuclear weapons," Gardiner said.

"I expect the Israeli objective to be more like a year. That is doable without tactical nuclear weapons."
My guess is that Israel will only use nuclear weapons if it believes there is no other way to stop Iran (assuming that we have them of course). This article does not mention the massive ordnance penetrator (MOP) , a giant bunker buster that is supposed to come online fairly soon. It is highly doubtful that the Obama administration would sell Israel the MOP. On other hand, failure to supply Israel with the MOP could make it feel forced to use tactical nuclear weapons.

This much seems certain: Israel will not absorb an Iranian nuclear attack to keep the Obama administration happy over Iran, the 'Palestinians' or anything else.

Read the whole thing.


At 12:14 AM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

Steinitz: We Might Need to Retake Gaza, Destroy Hamas

At 12:18 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - I've mentioned in the past that a few Jericho II missiles equipped with EMP warheads exploded at low altitude over Iran would be enough to destroy the country's infrastructure and set back its nuclear program for decades. In a modern civilization, everything needs electricity to run, including centrifuges that extract enriched uranium. Ditto for launching any workable missiles at Israel. My point is that a conventional attack is insufficient to destroy Iran's far flung nuclear program and in any event, Osirak can no longer be used a model for dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. Israel will have to think outside the box to make sure the existential threat it poses to the Jewish State is successfully removed.

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl.
What you need is what the Sovjets called "Tsar-bomb" a couple of them might resolve a lot of probs for Israel.


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