Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War
The signing of a Munich-class agreement with Iran that hands it more than it ever hoped to pull off represents a shocking, craven American capitulation to an apocalyptic crazy state: a North Korea with oil. Nothing in Western history remotely approaches it, not even Neville Chamberlain’s storied appeasement of another antisemitic negotiating partner.
But it also augurs the possibility of a nuclear war coming far sooner than one could have imagined under conventional wisdom worst-case scenarios. Following the US’s betrayal of Israel and its de facto detente with Iran, we cannot expect Israel to copy longstanding US doctrines of no-first-nuclear-use and preferences for conventional-weapons-only war plans. After all, both were premised (especially after the USSR’s 1991 collapse) on decades of US nuclear and conventional supremacy. If there ever were an unassailable case for a small, frighteningly vulnerable nation to pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to shock, economically paralyze, and decapitate am enemy sworn to its destruction, Israel has arrived at that circumstance.
Why? Because Israel has no choice, given the radical new alignment against it that now includes the US, given reported Obama threats in 2014 to shoot down Israeli attack planes, his disclosure of Israel’s nuclear secrets and its Central Asian strike-force recovery bases, and above all his agreement to help Iran protect its enrichment facilities from terrorists and cyberwarfare – i.e., from the very special-operations and cyber forces that Israel would use in desperate attempts to halt Iran’s bomb. Thus Israel is being forced, more rapidly and irreversibly than we appreciate, into a bet-the-nation decision where it has only one forceful, game-changing choice — early nuclear pre-emption – to wrest back control of its survival and to dictate the aftermath of such a survival strike.
Would this involve many nuclear weapons? No – probably fewer than 10-15, although their yields must be sufficiently large to maximize ground shock. Would it produce Iranian civilian casualties? Yes but not as many as one might suppose, as it would avoid cities. Most casualties would be radiological, like Chernobyl, rather than thermal and blast casualties. Would it spur a larger catalytic nuclear war? No. Would it subsequently impel Russia, China and new proliferators to normalize nuclear weapons in their own war planning? Or would the massive global panic over the first nuclear use in anger in 70 years, one that would draw saturation media coverage, panic their publics into urgent demands for ballistic missile self-defense systems? Probably the latter.
More depressing insights
A whole setup only for the greater glory and self gratification of the worlds most dangerous narcissist …. Apres moi le deluge
Hours after Washington published a “fact sheet” in Lausanne Thursday, April 2 – which enumerated “the parameters of the agreed framework” hammered out by the US world powers and Iran – Tehran countered with its own version the next day, after the lead Iranian negotiator Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, dismissed the American accounting as “spin.”
The Iranian version departs substantially from President Barack Obama’s assurance of “a deal that meets our core objections,” and statement,: “There is no way Iran can get around it to build a bomb or produce plutonium at its Arak plan…verification mechanisms built into the agreed framework will ensure that if Iran cheats, the world will know it.”
Tehran’s version had two objects: 1) To refute Obama’s presentation of the outcome of the Lausanne talks, and 2) To show the Iranian people how successful its negotiating team had been in defending its national interest.
The battle of versions, fought just hours after both sides claimed victory in the diplomatic contest played out at Lausanne, makes it obvious that the gaps between the world powers and Iran are far wider than admitedt. They could not even find a common definition of what if anything was achieved in the talks: “a framework deal” in US terms; or “a package of solutions leading up to a future Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action” – in Iranian parlance.
The gaps on such key issues as enrichment, sanctions, research and development, means of verifying compliance (described by Obama as intrusive”) could no longer be papered over after Tehran issued its version. It was a short document and here are its main points:
Iran’s version of the Lausanne deal
- Iran’s nuclear program including enrichment will continue.
- None of Iran’s nuclear facilities or related activities will be stopped or shut down or suspended and activities will continue at Natanz, Fordow, Isfahan and Arak.
- There is no confirmation of Obama’s claim that the Arak plant will not be allowed to produce plutonium. The Iranians say: The Arak heavy water research reactor will remain – enhanced and updated with re-modifications as a joint international project. In addition to decreasing the amount of plutonium production, the efficiency of the Arak reactor will be increased significantly.
- After the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action, all the UN Security Council resolutions will be revoked, and all the multilateral economic and financial sanctions of the EU and the unilateral ones of the US (which are detailed) immediately removed.
- After the preparatory phase and the start of Iran’s nuclear-related implementation work, all the sanctions will be automatically annulled on a single specified day. Furthermore, all P5-1 members are committed to restrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.
- There is no word in the entire Iranian document on inspections of any kind, which counters the “verification mechanisms built into the agreed framework” referred to by President Obama.
- Instead, the Iranian version says that violations “by any one party” will have “predetermined mechanisms of response.”
- Sanctions were ruled out by the previous point.
The devil is in the equivocations