I am but Benjamin will have to take the blame!
A new flurry of threats by Israeli leaders to strike Iran on their own has coincided with a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to finalize an arms deal that will guarantee Israel’s regional military supremacy over the Middle East for a decade or two.
Last week, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz boast that Israel can act alone if need be and that’s true. But this was without saying that before yesterday; Israel’s military capabilities were not enough to deliver a knockout blow against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, the in-flight refueling capability being the key factor in such a long-range operation.
Well, yesterday, the United States made Israel’s dream possible.
First, in March, Obama brokered a rapprochement between Turkey and Israel and now this. Why press Israel not to attack Iran, for fear of igniting a region-wide conflagration, and then provide it with the very systems they need to make such and attack possible? Is there something in the wind here that I long suspected and feared?
The Israelis have long threatened to unleash unilateral airstrikes on Iran, despite U.S. pressures not to and despite their own limitations. They’ve been pretty quiet in recent months. Then last week, the Pentagon announced the Israeli government was seeking to buy 86.4 million gallons of petroleum products, mostly fuel used by Israeli air force jets.
Is there something in the air?
Yesterday, the US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced the signature of an armaments deal that will ensure the military supremacy of Israel over the Middle East for the next two decades. Hagel pointed out that the deal involves the selling of defense platforms never before made available by the United States to another country, adding that he had begun talks with Ya’alon about a future assistance program to Israel for 2017, when the current agreement ends.
“We are in a tough neighborhood in the Middle East,” Ya’alon said. “Iran is a security threat which funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. It is involved in terrorism in the whole world – Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya.” Ya’alon said that while he prefers a diplomatic solution to end the Iranian nuclear program, Israel is prepared to defend itself by itself.
Finally, last week, the Pentagon announced it was sending 200 American soldiers to Jordan, adding that the deployment could end up being part of a larger movement of 20,000 soldiers to secure loose chemical weapons in neighboring Syria.
There is definitely something cooking!
While the American and Israeli defense officials are welcoming their new arms sale agreement as a major step toward increasing Israel’s military strength, some others Israeli officials are saying that this new deal is still leaving them without the weapons they need if they decide to attack Iran’s deepest and best-protected nuclear sites.
The new weapons sale package includes aircraft for midair refueling and missiles that can cripple an adversary’s air defense system. But what the Israelis wanted most was a weapons system that is missing from the package: a giant bunker-busting bomb designed to penetrate earth and reinforced concrete to destroy deeply buried sites. According to both American and Israeli analysts, this weapon known as “Massive Ordnance Penetrator”, is the only weapon that would have a chance of destroying the Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment center at Fordow, which is buried more than 200 feet under a mountain outside the holy city of Qum.
Iran having consistently denied that it wants nuclear weapons and has called its uranium enrichment activities peaceful, the Obama administration always has been and is still reluctant to even discuss selling such capability to the Israelis pointing to a decision by President Obama to send advanced refueling tanker planes to Israel that would make it possible for the country’s fighter aircraft to reach as far as Iran. A similar refueling capability was turned down during the administration of former President George W. Bush.
To attack or not to attack, that is the question!
“It’s all about timetables,” said Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s inner circle of strategists: “If you say the goal is to halt Iran in the enrichment phase, you don’t have much time, maybe you can give it another year or more.”
The bets are open!
Michel Ouellette JMD
Public Affairs & Communications
Author, Novelist, and Futurist