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|Saul Roth||March 29th 2012|
World Jewish Daily
Evidence for the campaign includes leaked information containing sensitive details, such as an article appearing Wednesday in Foreign Policy magazine that names Azerbaijan as a country from which Israel might launch an Iran attack.
While pledging repeatedly that "all options are on the table" the Obama administration is nonetheless seeking to close off operational options for Israel's military.
Ron Ben-Yishai, writing for Ynet, puts it this way: "In recent weeks the Administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran. This “surgical strike” is undertaken via reports in the American and British media, but the campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties. The first and most important American objective is to eliminate potential operational options available to the IDF and the State of Israel ... it is blatantly clear that reports in the past week alone have caused Israel substantive diplomatic damage, and possibly even military and operational damage."
Wednesday's article in Foreign Policy magazine stated that the Azeri government had given Israel permission to use four abandoned Soviet-era air force bases near Iran's border. Should Israel decide to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, which it believes are being built with the intention of creating a nuclear weapon, Israelis war planes using these bases would not have to refuel mid-flight, eliminating a major operational obstacle.
Access to such airfields is important for Israel, because it would mean that Israeli F-15I and F-16I fighter-bombers would not have to refuel midflight during a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but could simply continue north and land in Azerbaijan. Defense analyst David Isenberg describes the ability to use Azeri airfields as "a significant asset" to any Israel strike, calculating that the 2,200-mile trip from Israel to Iran and back again would stretch Israel's warplanes to their limits. "Even if they added extra fuel tanks, they'd be running on fumes," Isenberg told me, "so being allowed access to Azeri airfields would be crucial."
Former CENTCOM commander Gen. Joe Hoar simplified Israel's calculations: "They save themselves 800 miles of fuel," he told me in a recent telephone interview. "That doesn't guarantee that Israel will attack Iran, but it certainly makes it more doable."
Leaking that information would of course allow Iran to prepare for such an eventuality
Another report, this one penned by U.S. congressional researchers, claims that Iran's "centrifuge workshops" are dispersed throughout the country and largely hidden, making an Israeli strike ineffectual. That report was leaked to the media Thursday.
The possibility of dispersed facilities complicates any assessment of a potential raid’s success, making it “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons,” the U.S. report found.
This article was reprinted from World Jewish Daily.