When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks out against Iran becoming a pre-nuclear state he is warning that Iran could at any time cross the line agreed in diplomacy with the US and build a bomb whenever it chooses. He has never spelled out the mechanics of this threat to Israel’s survival.
The last DEBKA Weekly revealed in detail one potential scenario that, given Israel’s small size, would call for no more than one nuke to destroy its heartland and inflict at least an estimated million casualties. This nuclear bomb or device would be dropped from an IranAir civilian airliner on a regular run from Larnaca over the Mediterranean about 100 km from the Israeli coast.
After the plane disappeared, the delayed action mechanism would detonate the bomb and set off a tsunami. Giant waves would swamp the densely populated Tel Aviv conurbation and its satellites. This 1,500 square kilometer area is home to some 3.7 million people, nearly half of the country’s entire population, its military and banking centers, hi-tech industry and the stock exchange.
The cost in lives would be cataclysmic – at least a million dead.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary rulers make no secret of their plans for Israel. On Feb. 26, the second day of Iran’s 2015 war games, a senior Revolutionary Guards officer declared that Iran had the ability to wipe the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv off the face of the earth.
In projecting this scenario, Israel’s defense chiefs have no doubt set up defenses and a second-strike capacity in a mountainous area outside the range of a tsunami and far from Israel’s shores.
Israel is also on guard on both of its northern borders against the hostile Iranian military presence encroaching from Syria and Lebanon.
The big speech – about which Netanyahu joked: Never has so much been written about a speech before it was given – will be delivered to a joint session of the US Congress Tuesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. IST.
It is hard to see what he hopes to achieve, aside from dramatizing his fight against the emerging US-Iranian deal which, he warns, will enable Iran to consummate its drive for nuclear weapons early in the future.
He takes the august podium under a barrage of criticism from President Barack Obama, his aides and his political opponents at home. About one-fifth of Democratic members will be absent. The White House has warned him against “betraying trust” by revealing details conveyed in confidence. But he won cheers from a large AIPAC audience earlier when he said, “Israel now has a voice and I will use it!”
In a Reuters interview Monday night, Obama said the US and Israel agreed Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons, but differed on how to achieve this goal. Any deal he would agree to, Obama said, would require Iran to freeze its nuclear program at least a decade. The US goal is to make sure "there's at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one," he said.
A key doubt was whether Iran would agree to rigorous inspection demands and the low levels of uranium enrichment capability they would have to maintain.
Monday, March 2, the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, complained once again that Iran was still not answering key questions about its nuclear projects or opening up suspect sites to inspection.
But US national security adviser Susan Rice, who addressed AIPAC after Netanyahu, insisted that the prime minister’ demand to strip Iran of the ability to enrich uranium would be “neither realistic nor achievable,” adding that President Obama had left all options on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.
After the speech to Congress, the prime minister will meet Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid with a group of bipartisan lawmakers.
Although no member of the administration will be present for the speech – not just Vice President Joe Biden – the office of House Speaker John Boehner, who invited the Israeli leader to give the address, says the demand for tickets is unprecedented – from both Republicans and Democrats alike. The House and Senate have set up alternative viewing locations.