Is an Attack on Iran a Big Risk?

[Ha'aretz] Yossi Melman - Various experts outline doomsday scenarios in the event of a military attack by the U.S. or Israel to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Fearing the reaction of the ayatollahs has a paralyzing effect. Even before the first shot has been fired, Iran can credit itself with a success. It created an image of an omnipotent country that will not hesitate to use its power to respond and avenge a military operation against it. This is an impressive psychological achievement. But a new paper, "The Last Resort," written by Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argues that the success or failure of a military attack depends on many variables. Clawson explained in an interview that success or failure is determined by the political result of any such attack. Israel has to create the circumstances in which world public opinion will understand Israel and its motives, which is what happened with the attack against the nuclear facility in Syria. Israel benefited from President Assad's hostile attitude to the world, and therefore the international community showed understanding of the Israeli air force's attack. Iran has lately been threatening that if it is attacked it will close the Straits of Hormuz and block the flow of oil. But this is a problematic threat, since it would also affect Iran's friends and supporters, such as China and India. Most experts estimate that in the event of an Israeli attack, the Iranians will launch Shihab missiles at Israel. But Shihab missiles are not considered particularly reliable and the Shihab's guidance system is not very accurate. Israel's Arrow missile defense system would certainly intercept quite a few Shihab missiles. Moreover, Iran's firing missiles at Israel would enable Israel to respond in a decisive manner. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that Hizbullah will react automatically by firing rockets. Clawson's assessment is that contrary to the impression that has been formed, Iran's options for responding are limited and weak.

2008-05-23 01:00:00

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