When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu charged this week that the nuclear deal negotiated between the US and Iran would, if signed, give Iran “a license to develop the production of nuclear bombs while openly declaring its intention to destroy the State of Israel,” he was saying in effect that the Islamic Republic would henceforth be able to produce nuclear bombs whenever it chooses, and thereby subject Israel to an enduring existential threat.
The potential scenarios for Iran to make good on its oft-repeated threat are explored by DEBKA Weekly.
In the first place, Iran would need no more than one nuke to wipe out large areas of the Jewish State – without recourse to a nuclear-capable missile. Three years ago, Israel’s military planners charted Iran’s potential options for achieving this end. The following scenario was seen as the most ominous:
The vehicle postulated could be an ordinary civilian airliner of IranAir, which six times a week flies out of Cyprus’s Larnaca International Airport over the Mediterranean to within 100 kilometers of the Israeli coast.
A single nuclear bomb, or even a primitive device, could be loaded in its baggage hold, undetected by US or Israeli security inspections. The bomb fitted with a delaying device would be dropped by the innocent-seeming airliner into the sea opposite the Tel Aviv shore. The IranAir flight would then carry on to its regular destination.
An hour later, the bomb would explode. After ten minutes, a tsunami would engulf Tel Aviv.
A nuclear-generated tsunami would claim one million lives
If the nuke were dropped 60 kilometers from the Israeli shore, or happened to be washed up even closer by winds or currents, the monster waves would wash over all of central Israel, from an area north of Herzliya, including Greater Tel Aviv, and as far south as Ashdod port.
The advancing columns of water would be checked in the east by the Jerusalem Hills.
This calamitous wave would devastate everything in its wake – meaning that a potential one million Israelis would die and Israel’s heartland would be laid desolate.
Here is the calculus: The Greater Tel Aviv (Gush Dan) coastal strip is 90 kilometers long from north to south and 20 kilometers wide. It has 3.7 million inhabitants out of the total Israeli population of 7.8 million, and is the country’s most densely populated area, as well as the hub of its military, financial and hi-tech life. (Israel’s defense ministry and the IDF high command are located in Tel Aviv as well as the Israeli Stock Exchange.)
Thursday, Feb. 26, the second day of Iran’s annual war games, a senior commander declared that if Israel attacked his country, the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv would be wiped off the earth.
This option would expand the devastation. If the projected Mediterranean tsunami generated by a nuclear bomb also struck Haifa, a major port and industrial center 85 km north of Tel Aviv, the death toll would rise to one and a quarter million souls, most of them Jews but also a good number of Muslims and Christians.
Israel sets up defensive and second-strike facilities
Israel has relocated its infrastructure for defense against an Iranian nuclear attack and a second strike capability in the Jerusalem hills, out of the way of the predicted mountainous tsunami. Gigantic caverns have been sunk underground and fitted out with every conceivable modern facility, to house Israel’s nuclear weapons systems and provide quarters from which the Israeli government, its high command and security and intelligence services, would be able to function amidst a nuclear emergency.
Israel has also located second-strike resources in two oceans far from its shores: Five Israel Navy Dolphin-class submarines, armed with nuclear missiles, cruise in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean – at least two on duty in both waters at any given moment.
US Secretary of State John Kerry remarked Tuesday, Feb. 25, that Netanyahu could be making a mistake by objecting to the nuclear deal emerging between Washington and Tehran, just as Israel was wrong to support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
This remark is not only odd but also off-beam. Israeli leaders, from then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to military and intelligence establishment heads, would have much rather the US had gone go for Iran and destroyed its nuclear program and Revolutionary Guards, with the aim of toppling the ayatollahs’ regime, instead of invading Iraq.
However, President George W. Bush refused to heed Israel’s arguments then, just as President Obama aims today to sign a nuclear deal that leaves Iran with the option of building a nuclear bomb.
Iran tags a conventional threat to Israel to its nuclear potential
In an interview on Feb. 23, his National Security Adviser Susan Rice made much of the destructive impact the Netanyahu speech to Congress on March 3 would have on the “fabric of the relationship,” saying that “when it becomes injected with politics, that’s a problem.”
But over and above this dispute, the prime minister must keep in mind the fact that the lives of some million Israelis – not to mention Israel’s very existence – potentially hang in the balance of the deal the United States proposes to sign with Iran.
Three years ago, Barack Obama fired off every bow in his quiver to deter Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, which were then less developed than they are today. Now, he is again pulling out the stops – this time even putting the historic US-Israel strategic relationship on the line – to deter Netanyahu from spelling out for Congress the perils facing Israel.
At the same time, the president is amenable to leaving Iran with facilities, which have meanwhile been developed to the capability of building four to six nuclear bombs at a month’s notice. And he is moreover granting Iran pre-eminence as the leading Middle East power, despite the Revolutionary Guards’ drive in recent weeks to gird Israel round with military forces at strategic points in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq for a future assault on Israel.
The Iranian menace to Israel has grown exponentially in the years of US-led nuclear diplomacy. Today it embraces a conventional threat, as well as the potential for an unconventional weapons attack.