in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka of August 20, 2010
By Ameen Izzadeen
The scene: Hundreds of Israeli war planes are on their way to attack Iran’s nuclear sites. They may have to cross the Iraqi airspace, which is controlled by the United States.
The question: What will the US do if the Israeli war planes enter Iraq’s airspace on their way to attack Iran?
The answer: Don’t shoot them.
This is the advice the Pentagon is said to have given the US Central Command which runs the war in Iraq.
The latest Atlantic Magazine’s cover story titled “Israel is getting ready to bomb Iran” gives details about this and many other aspects of the soon-to-be carried-out Israeli attack on Iran.
The article by Jeffrey Goldberg says the attack will not have the prior US nod because of a possibility that Washington, fearing the unpredictable repercussions, may persuade Israel not to go ahead with the strike. The Americans will be informed only when Israeli war planes are airborne.
The Israelis will tell the Americans that “they are taking this drastic step because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat, since Hitler, to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear programme for at least three to five years. They will tell their American colleagues that Israel was left with no choice. They will not be asking for permission, because it will be too late to ask for permission”.
The author of the article says he is not a warmonger and that his analysis is not a one-man war game. He points out that Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear programme. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting-forever, as it turned out-Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean-built reactor in Syria. “An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.”
He also claims that his analysis is based on interviews with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 40-odd present and past decision-makers.
The article has renewed the debate on a war on Iran, particularly in Israel and the United States. The timing of the article is also significant. It came days before Iran is to commission its first nuclear power reactor built with Russian assistance. The ceremony to bring the Bushehr reactor online is scheduled for tomorrow.
Recent polls carried out by various survey and media groups in the US show the Americans are split over an attack on Iran. Almost all the surveys show that not many Americans are supportive of military action to stop Iran’s nuclear programme. What is interesting to note in these polls is that the one conducted by Fox Television indicates that 65 percent of the Americans support a military strike on Iran as opposed to 23 percent who approved military action in a CNN poll.
A quick analysis of the discrepancy in the two polls shows that the neocons, who are a minority in the US but disproportionately influential and powerful in US politics, are promoting or clamouring for a war on Iran.
A leading neocon, John Bolton, on Monday called on Israel to attack Iran “now”.
He said Israel had “eight days” to launch a military strike against Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility and stop Tehran from acquiring a functioning atomic plant.
Bolton, who was the United States’ UN envoy during the last days of the George W. Bush administration, called on Israel to attack the plant before Iran injected enriched uranium obtained from Russia into it. Any attack after August 21 “will be too late for Israel to launch a military strike against the facility because it would spread radiation and affect Iranian civilians,” Bolton said.
If Iran was not stopped now, he said, “it will achieve something that no other opponent of Israel, no other enemy of the United States in the Middle East really has and that is a functioning nuclear reactor.”
But Bolton was of the opinion that Israel had missed the opportunity.
Iran dismissed Bolton’s war cry as just a bark. Its Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said “these threats of attacks had become repetitive and lost their meaning.”
Reports from Iran also say the government there has taken adequate security measures to protect the Bushehr nuclear power plant from any attacks.
Though the Atlantic magazine article gives the impression that President Obama would not formally endorse an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear sites, the United States has been warning Iran of a military response. Perhaps, this was to apply pressure on Iran and prevent it from pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. Perhaps, Obama is compelled to take such a hardline stance to avoid charges that he is soft on Iran in spite of the tough sanctions the US has imposed and got the UN to impose on the Islamic republic.
At a White House news briefing early this month, Obama said Iranian officials “should know what they can say ‘yes’ to.”
If “national pride” drove Iran to develop nuclear weapons, Obama continued, “they will bear the costs of that.” He said that “all options” were open, to “prevent a nuclear arms race in the region and to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”
Obama’s warning, followed by the Atlantic Magazine article, Bolton’s war cry and Iran’s commissioning of the Bushehr plant – all in August — also coincided with another significant event – the August 08 release of Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli nuclear technician from an Israeli jail. He was released again on the same condition which applied to his previous releases. He should not talk to the media or any foreigner or leave Israel.
It was Vanunu who in 1986 first revealed that Israel had nuclear bombs. His revelation came in an article the British Sunday Times had published on October 5, 1986.
The Israelis had him kidnapped while he was holidaying in Italy and jailed him for 18 years — till 2004. Vanunu was arrested again and again for talking to foreigners and violating the terms of his release. Amnesty International has pointed out that restrictions on Vanunu’s movement, speech and association violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Israel has ratified and is obliged to uphold.
Israel’s showing little respect for international law is no surprise. But what is surprising is that there is little pressure from the United Nations, the United States or any other Western nation on Israel to let Vanunu enjoy his freedom of speech and movement. The United States does not call on Israel to restore Vanunu’s fundamental rights because the Israeli nuclear technician is privy to damning evidence that proves US collaboration with Israel in the making of the Zionist state’s nuclear bombs.
In his limited meetings with foreign journalists after his release in 2004, Vanunu had claimed that Israel’s nuclear arsenal was the biggest threat to peace in West Asia and it was Israel which assassinated US President John F. Kennedy because of his strong opposition to Israel’s secret nuclear weapons programme started by Ben Gurion, the then Israeli Prime Minister.
While Israel prepares for an attack on Iran, disregarding the devastating consequences such an attack could have on the region and global oil supplies, Iran says it is ready for talks with P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
But it has one condition – the US sanctions and military threats should be lifted.
“Put away the threats and put away the sanctions,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.