According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel has begun planning for a strike on Iran’s presumed nuclear-research sites without cooperation from the US. Sources tell the JP that they’d prefer to partner with the Americans, but that they have to plan for the contingency of refusal:
The IDF is drawing up options for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that do not include coordination with the United States, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
While its preference is to coordinate with the US, defense officials have said Israel is preparing a wide range of options for such an operation.
“It is always better to coordinate,” one top Defense Ministry official explained last week. “But we are also preparing options that do not include coordination.”
Israeli officials have said it would be difficult, but not impossible, to launch a strike against Iran without receiving codes from the US Air Force, which controls Iraqi airspace. Israel also asked for the codes in 1991 during the First Gulf War, but the US refused.
According to the Post, Israel has twice asked for a green light and the codes, and the Bush administration has refused. The US has installed missile-defense systems and deployed our own people to man them. The Post notes that our intentions serve both Israel and ourselves, as it allows the US to watch Israel for any signs of military action.
Israel would have a difficult but not impossible task in hitting enough sites in Iran to make a difference. The most direct route would take then through Iraqi air space, which would also require the IFF codes to avoid getting attacked by US forces. Otherwise, they’d probably have to fly around the Arabian Peninsula, refueling along the way and making their presence known well ahead of the attack. They’d have to hope that they got the actual nuclear sites, as the Iranians decentralized the program as a result of Israel’s attack on Osirak.
What effect would an attack have on the region? If they violate Iraqi air space to do it, we can kiss our position in Iraq goodbye. The Iranian regime would be immeasurably strengthened in the short run; it’s hard to imagine a more unifying event than an attack from Israel on the Iranian populace. Iran would almost immediately order its proxy armies of Hezbollah and Hamas into action against Israel, touching off a war on the Lebanon border and in Gaza.
Would all of that be worth ridding the world of Iranian nukes? You bet it would — but only if it could completely destroy the Iranian nuclear program. That’s a long shot on the order of hitting the lottery, even with US cooperation.