“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

An Israeli plan to nuke Iran? Yes or No?

Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi New York and Sarah Baxter Washington Times on line

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Some analysts warned that Iranian retaliation for such a strike could range from disruption of oil supplies to the West to terrorist attacks against Jewish targets around the world.

Israel has identified three prime targets south of Tehran which are believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear programme:

Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges are being installed for uranium enrichment
A uranium conversion facility near Isfahan where, according to a statement by an Iranian vice-president last week, 250 tons of gas for the enrichment process have been stored in tunnels
A heavy water reactor at Arak, which may in future produce enough plutonium for a bomb Israeli officials believe that destroying all three sites would delay Iran’s nuclear programme indefinitely and prevent them from having to live in fear of a “second Holocaust”.
The Israeli government has warned repeatedly that it will never allow nuclear weapons to be made in Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared that “Israel must be wiped off the map”.


  1. Were Iran to find its major cities in darkness and without provision, nuclear arms would not be necessary. Why, civil war might erupt.

    Oh, if The Times knows, it is in the interest of Israel for The Times to know.

  2. One kilo-ton device is mentioned in acomment about dropping the device down a shaft.
    One kilo-ton, just like the W54, a micro device.
    Fancy that

  3. I wonder if the Times has a farsi edition?

  4. Figure that there is a 1% chance of that?

  5. Oak Leaf is again addressing the sorry state of Army recruitment.

    Message to US Army Human Resources Command, STOP THE SPAM

    “I can only assume that there is tremendous pressure to fill ever growing unit vacancy lists. The slots that I have been “offered,” that no one is taking, indicate that it will become increasingly difficult to mobilize many “intact” Reserve Component units. Instead we will see more and more “derivative unit” mobilizations where a “fractional unit” is created on paper to mobilize.”

    Oak Leaf is a courageous soul. Drop in and give him a word of praise for his service and his concern for the troops.


    January 6, 2007 -- WORD that Adm. William Fallon will move laterally from our Pacific Command to take charge of Central Command - responsible for the Middle East - while two ground wars rage in the region baffled the media.

    Why put a swabbie in charge of grunt operations?

    There's a one-word answer: Iran.

    ASSIGNING a Navy aviator and combat veteran to oversee our military operations in the Persian Gulf makes perfect sense when seen as a preparatory step for striking Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities - if that becomes necessary.

    While the Air Force would deliver the heaviest tonnage of ordnance in a campaign to frustrate Tehran's quest for nukes, the toughest strategic missions would fall to our Navy. Iran would seek to retaliate asymmetrically by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz - and trying to hit oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates.

    Only the U.S. Navy - hopefully, with Royal Navy and Aussie vessels underway beside us - could keep the oil flowing to a thirsty world.

    In short, the toughest side of an offensive operation against Iran would be the defensive aspects - requiring virtually every air and sea capability we could muster. (Incidentally, an additional U.S. carrier battle group is now headed for the Gulf; Britain and Australia are also strengthening their naval forces in the region.)

    Not only did Adm. Fallon command a carrier air wing during Operation Desert Storm, he also did shore duty at a joint headquarters in Saudi Arabia. He knows the complexity and treacherousness of the Middle East first-hand.

    STRENGTHENING his qualifications, numer ous blue-water assignments and his duties at PACOM schooled him on the intricacies of the greater Indian Ocean - the key strategic region for the 21st-century and the one that would be affected immediately by a U.S. conflict with Iran.

    The admiral also understands China's junkie-frantic oil dependency and its consequent taste for geopolitical street-crime: During a U.S. operation against Iran, Beijing would need its fix guaranteed.

    While Congress obsesses on Iraq and Iraq alone, the administration's thinking about the future. And it looks as if the White House is preparing options to mitigate a failure in Iraq and contain Iran. Bush continues to have a much-underrated strategic vision - the administration's consistent problems have been in the abysmal execution of its policies, not in the over-arching purpose.

    Now, pressed by strategic dilemmas and humiliating reverses, Bush is doing what FDR had to do in the dark, early months of 1942: He's turning to the Navy.

    AS a retired Army officer, I remain proud of and loyal to my service. I realize that the Army's leaders are disappointed to see the CentCom slot go to an admiral in the midst of multiple ground wars. But, beyond the need for a Navy man at the helm should we have to take on Iran, there's yet another reason for sending Fallon to his new assignment: The Army's leadership has failed us at the strategic level.

    After Gen. Eric Shinseki was sidelined for insisting on a professional approach to Iraq, Army generals did plenty of fine tactical and operational work - but they never produced a strategic vision for the greater Middle East.

    Our Army is deployed globally, but our generals never seem to acquire the knack of thinking beyond the threat hypnotizing them at the moment (the Marines, with their step-brother ties to the Navy, do a better job of acting locally while thinking globally). Perhaps the Army's Gen. Dave Petraeus will emerge as an incisive strategic thinker after he takes command in Baghdad, but his predecessors routinely got mired in tactical details and relied - fatally - on other arms of government to do the strategic thinking.

    The reasons are complex, ranging from service culture to educational traditions, but it's incontestable that the Navy long has produced our military's best strategic thinkers - captains and admirals able to transcend parochial interests to see the global security environment as a whole. Adm. Fallon's job is to avoid the tyranny of the moment, to see past the jumble of operational pieces and visualize how those pieces ultimately might fit together.

    NOR is the Iran problem the only Navy-first issue facing CENTCOM. As you read this, our ships are patrolling the coast of Somalia to intercept fleeing terrorists - and have been hunting pirates in the same waters for years. China's future development (and internal peace) is tied to dependable supplies of Middle-Eastern and African oil transiting Indian-Ocean sea lanes, as well as to shipping goods along the same routes. In a future confrontation with China, our ability to shut down the very routes we're now challenged to protect would be vital.

    Not least because of the botch-up in Iraq, there's a growing sense of the limitations of U.S. ground-force involvement in the Middle East. That doesn't mean we won't see further necessity-driven interventions and even other occupations, only that our strategic planners have begun to grasp that positive change in the region - if it comes at all - is going to take far longer than many of us hoped and won't always be amenable to boots-on-the-ground prodding.

    If we can't determine everything that happens in the Big Sandbox, we need to be able to control access to and from the playground - a classic Navy mission.

    And in the end the United States remains primarily a maritime power. As Sir Walter Raleigh pointed out 400 years ago, he who controls the waters controls the world.

    Gen. Petraeus is going to Baghdad to deal with our present problems. Adm. Fallon is going to the U.S. Central Command to deal with the future.

  7. "... consistent problems have been in the abysmal execution of its policies, not in the over-arching purpose. ..."

  8. I just hope the Iranians are thinking within the box of conventional wisdom. Their defensive network indicates as much. The Iranians are betting the farm on a direct attack against their strong points. Well, it isn't going to happen.

    Instead, I foresee attacks against Iranian infrastructure. Take a look at maps showing Iranian hydrology, power grid, highway and rail system, oil and gas pipelines. Further, look at the population densities in and around Iran’s urban centers.

    Either we are the Israelis will turn off the lights, cut the highways and rails, turn off the water, and close off the pipelines, shut down the harbors and major airports, and destroy communications hubs. Deaf, dumb, blind, and starving, Iran will fall into tribal revolt. At that point the nuclear facilities will be vulnerable.

    It was unnecessary for the Russians to defeat Napoleon's Grande Armée in battle. They starved it to death. Napoleon, thinking conventionally, did not imagine the possibility

  9. rufus,

    How many times has the EB been days ahead of the rest of the blogs and the media? Those guys just don't have a nose for news.

  10. rufus said...
    Congrats, Ralphie; you're only Two Days behind the E Bar, this time.

    I think Allen, and I, tumbled to this concept about, oh, ten? minutes after the announcement?

    Sat Jan 06, 10:47:24 PM EST

    I am constantly amazed at how often that happens!

  11. Deeply buried and hardened structures, like a command and control bunker or a missile silo tens to hundreds of meters underground, are more immune to conventional explosives.

    Those structures are difficult to destroy even using an aboveground nuclear explosion: Until recently, the huge 9-megaton B-53 nuclear bomb was designated to destroy such targets. Most nuclear weapons now in the US stockpile were designed to explode in the air or on contact with the ground. In either case, the blast wave transmits only a small fraction of the total yield as seismic energy into the ground; the large density difference between the air and the ground creates a mechanical impedance mismatch.

    A nuclear device exploded just a few meters underground, by contrast, couples its energy more efficiently to ground motion and generates a much more intense and damaging seismic shock than would an air burst of the same yield. Exploding a 10-kt nuclear bomb at a depth of 2 m underground, for example, would increase the effective yield by a factor of about 20 and result in underground damage equivalent to that of a 200-kt weapon exploded at the surface. If you really want to get into it go here

  12. Wu Wei said...
    "The Democrats support the use of force against Iran, saying that it is unacceptable for Iran to have nukes!

    Nuclear Iran
    Article quote in bold:

    Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable, new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told The Jerusalem Post hours after entering the party leadership position.

    The Maryland Democrat said the view is shared by his party, rejecting assertions that the Democrats would be weaker than the Republicans on Iran.

    He also said that the use of force against Teheran remained an option.

    Hoyer, second only in the hierarchy of the House of Representatives to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is charged with articulating and strategizing on party policy.

    Meanwhile, Reliapundit chimes in at BC that the polonium was really intended for a Nuke for London.

    Sure hope I don't run into Big Foot on my Beach Walk.

  13. U.S., allies campaigning to staunch Iran's oil flow

    Washington is quietly persuading banks and oil companies to pull out of projects that would expand the nation's petroleum infrastructure

  14. We didn't need bases in Europe to handle the Soviet.

    We don't need bases in Japan to handle China.

  15. If Israel hits Iran, we will have about the same notice we had for the "Six Day" and "Yom Kippur" wars. That is, after all, the whole point to the element of surprise.

  16. Oh, and since the State Department has so little regard for the lives of its expendables, notice is a mere convention, as Yasser Arafat would doubtless agree. Moreover, since the rest of the world is as enamored with the Laws of Land Warfare as we, our folks would be just fine – I’m thinking Iran 1979.

  17. rufus,

    Roggio is on the job somewhere in the environs, if his post says anything.

    Iran and al-Qaeda in Iraq

    Yon's last post was from Beirut, as I recall.

  18. I do not expect Israel to attack Iran anytime soon. Having left their flanks open to Syrian and Hezbollah attack, Israel can hardly have its air force otherwise engaged. Having the Iranians focusing on and hardening nuclear facilities is not a bad idea, however, if a planned attack is to fall on Iran’s weak links.

  19. trish,

    re: they won't do it

    I must say: they have done it - not to mention the attack on Osiraq.

  20. There is the school of thought demanding the nuclear annihilation of all Iranians. If the West permits Iran to go nuclear, that may come to pass. However, at this time, the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, be they tactical or strategic, is unnecessary. This is the case because Iran is weak in all manner of ways that negate the ultimate sanction. Additionally, if the Iranian regime can be brought down in a manner that spares the wholesale slaughter of Western leaning Iranians, the West gains a buffer to both Pakistani and Saudi Wahhabism, the genuine long-term enemy of the West.

  21. We'll just impose the ultimate sanction:
    Make THEM pay for Aristides advice.

  22. Some quite rightly point out the size and population of Iran as impediments to ground action against Iran. But that part of Iran of interest to conventional warfare planners is limited to that strip west and south of the Zagros Mountains, running from Dezful to Bandar ‘Abbas. Much of this area is moderately to sparsely populated. Additionally, the road network connecting this area to Iran proper must traverse the Zagros range. The northern tier of the Zagros range lies within hostile Kurdish territory, meaning that the mountain passes are natural conduits, readily closed.

    Whoever controls the aforesaid strip of territory controls the wealth of Iran. Holding this strategic terrain will require American as well as allied Kurds and other tribes hostile to the Iranian regime. Given the nature of the regime, such alliances should be easily enough made.


    Population Density

    Key Petroleum Sector Facilities

    Iran roads and rails

    Bon appetit!

  23. As much fun as talking about Iranian nukes is, here's something you might enjoy (completely unrelated to politics). Guy's name in the middle is Doug (!).

  24. ralphie wrote: In a future confrontation with China, our ability to shut down the very routes we're now challenged to protect would be vital.

    whit posted this yesterday: So far, it looks as though Admiral Fallon’s claim to fame and infamy is developing Sino-US military relations; a position which brings him into conflict with China Hawks at the DoD, the Pentagon and the CIA. Perhaps the President has chosen Fallon to reassure the Chinese regarding US intentions toward Iran.

    Isn't there a chance Fallon will decide not to take decisive action against China, as ralphie has supposedly suggested?

    Of course, China is tomorrow's problem. Right now, Fallon's appointment proves to be an optimistic starter if we're gearing up for targeted strikes at Iranian infrastructure, communications, transport, as allen has posited.

    Such disruptive strikes of high intensity and widespread nature will hasten the decline of Iran's deteriorating propensity to refine, export and meet domestic demand for oil, gas and gasoline.

    andrew olmstead, though, sees this differently:

    Iran's inability to meet its OPEC quota over the past 18 months, means that Iran is enduring some painful economic times. What he doesn't note, however, is that if this is the case, it bolster's Iran's argument for nuclear power development.

    Iran is taking a significant economic hit by cutting natural gas delivery to foreign buyers. Given that exports of oil and natural gas are two of Iran's primary industries, when they have to stop selling natural gas to provide for domestic consumption, that's a big deal for their economy. Finding ways to increase their exports, then, is a logical move for the Iranian government, and it places their claims that they're pursuing nuclear power for peaceful uses in a different light.

    allen wrote: It was unnecessary for the Russians to defeat Napoleon's Grande Armée in battle. They starved it to death. Napoleon, thinking conventionally, did not imagine the possibility.

    Perhaps the Iranians will choose to adopt the Russians' scorched-earth tactic and start setting the oilfields and gas reserves on fire to starve the mullahs out. Too bad Iran doesn't have a long winter.

    re: Pataky

    Is it just me, or is everyone getting into the act of scrolling the pages of Maxim?


    Maybe you could speculate a few for Saddam, now that he's somewhere now, and realised that the "72 Virgins" are nowhere to be found.

  25. Still conflicted as to whether to believe the Israeli story. As rufus remarked, this is Olmert we're talking about.

  26. harrison,

    For whatever it is worth, the Israel story validates the paranoid suspicions of Iran, i.e. Israel and/or the US will go after its nuclear research/development projects, head-on. Consequently, Iran will redouble its efforts to harden these, thus neglecting its truly enormous infrastructure vulnerabilities. Therefore, while Iran concentrates on protecting its nascent nuclear program, it will simultaneously assist the allied effort to take down the fundamentalist regime without resort to direct nuclear or conventional attacks against those nuclear facilities. Once more, the West will prove there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    It must not be forgotten that the season for war is fast approaching in Afghanistan. Admiral Fallon, an expert in aerial warfare may be working on plans for reducing the Taliban in western Pakistan, as we speak.

    As to Olmert, his days are numbered. Whether Netanyahu will do better is another matter entirely. Like the US, Israel desperately needs an injection of new blood.

    The Maxim photo collage was invigorating, but it could not provide the same stimulation as photos of Alexander’s mother. Those things are so darned hard to find, you know?

  27. harrison,

    Pardon me for failing to take a closer look at The Possum Bistro. I just did a cursory scroll and noticed that blog hog rufus had already made an appearance. Later in the day I will give it the concentration it deserves.

  28. harrison,

    For a geezer such as I, it is a delight to see a young man so interested in matters of worth. Doubtless, you are an exemplary student, a joy to mentor, and the pride of your parents.

    If you have not spent time in the States, you must do so. I would caution you, however, to follow the path of Tocqueville and Dickens; while savoring the cosmopolitan coasts, do not neglect the interior, the heart of America.

  29. bobalharb,

    re: WC

    Women can be so hard to get. Don't you just love them?

  30. Rufus,

    How I came by this site is a mystery. If by you, I owe you a debt of gratitude. In not, enjoy.

  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  32. Telegraph reports , ISRAEL SAYS NO!

    "Citing what it said were several Israeli military sources The Sunday Times quoted several Israeli military sources as saying that two of the Jewish state's air force squadrons are training to use "bunker-busting" bombs for a single strike.

    But Israel has refuted the report. An Israeli official said:"This is absurd information coming from a newspaper that has already in the past distinguished itself with sensationalist headlines that in the end amounted to nothing," .

    "To think that we will launch an atomic attack against Iran, and on top of that that we would reveal it in advance to a foreign newspaper is doubly ridiculous," he said."

    Now this would be far more interesting if the Headline read, "Israel Confirms Plan."

  33. whit, that's why I suggested that Fallon would decide not to take action against China because of his history of avoiding confrontation with China, thereby putting him at odds with his China-hawkish colleagues.

    Ralph is somehow suggesting that Fallon would choose to take action against China in the future by securing the routes, without considering the man's personal predilection for diplomacy instead of confrontation with China.

    I certainly did not mean to suggest that you said Fallon was against China. We're on the same page, no?

    allen, you are too kind! As I've mentioned before, I come here to learn from you all, and I sincerely hope to enjoy your company in the future.

  34. Crusty Bob, begging for another Babtism by Waters of Woman Catholic.

  35. Harrison:
    see my
    Sun Jan 07, 12:07:15 AM EST

  36. doug, that is good news indeed.

    In conjunction with the links provided by allen:

    As always since the Khomeinist revolution of 1979, the interests of Iran as a nation-state are not always identical to those of Iran as the embodiment of a revolution. The interest of Iran as a nation-state at this juncture dictates a prudent and proportionate response to the UN resolution with the clear intention of avoiding further escalation.

    Te interest of the revolution, however, is to show that the Islamic Republic can give as food as it gets. As Ahmadinejad said before the resolution was passed, the Islamic Republic would bestow "double punishment" on those that defied it.

    [...] In the past two weeks, Iranian Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have been shocked to find out that the Iranian currency, the rial, is no longer accepted by moneychangers there. Worse still, the Iranian rial is also disappearing from Iraqi markets where it has fallen by almost 20 per cent against the Iraqi dinar.

    All that means that Tehran would now have to come up with dollars or euros to finance its clients and agents throughout the region, especially in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf.

    Ahmadinejad can be counted on to escalate the situation, and the "business-mullahs" will spur him on, hoping that he will fail and thus pave the way for yet another revolution; but the means to do so might be deprived.

    The argument used by the business-mullahs is simple: avoiding escalation could mean slow economic strangulation for the Islamic Republic.

    Fortunately (for us), with Ahmadinejad literally squeezing every cent from oil and gas revenues to fund his "revolution" and remake Iran into a bulwark against the US, as well as the champion of anti-Americanism and Shi'ism, much less emphasis will be spent on revamping the oil infrastructure and refining capabilities.

    The financial-mullahs might be catalysing the inevitable collapse of Iran's economy by instigating him to go even further: economic strangulation has already begun, and it shows no signs of stopping.

  37. Doug said...
    Crusty Bob, begging for another Babtism by Waters of Woman Catholic...

    Doug, the brewmeister of brevity and humour.

  38. Bobalharb said, "And I too am calling for Woman Catholics return. She placed me at the bottom of the fish tank, which is ok, old crustacean that I am, but I need the water changed. WC, come back!"

    Well Bobalharb, I felt I was being abused by most of the people in the EB/BC world and I tried to make a new start under a different nom de plume, and you were being such a Toto, pulling the curtain away. I accept the consequences for my earlier actions.