Michael Totten

Osirak Redux?

By Noah Pollak
If you want to forage deep into the weeds of the debate surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions, you should read the long, detailed analysis entitled “Osirak Redux?” in the new issue of the quarterly journal “International Security”:http://bcsia.ksg.harvard.edu/publications.cfm?program=ISP&project=IS&ln=home&pb_id=14&gma=14&gmi=37. The piece, by Whitney Raas and Austin Long, attempts to answer a very important question: Is Israel capable of destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities?
“Their answer is yes”:http://bcsia.ksg.harvard.edu/publication.cfm?program=ISP&ctype=article&item_id=1719. And they arrive at that conclusion after considering the capabilities of Israel’s air force — the ranges of its aircraft and the effectiveness of the armaments they carry — the capabilities of Iran’s antiquated air force and air defense systems (“In contrast to the modern systems of the IAF, the Iranian military possesses an odd amalgamation of technologies,” the authors dryly note), the targeting requirements of the strike, Israel’s possible attack routes, refueling and airspace concerns, and aircraft attrition rates. One is left with a stark picture of the reality that for this type of mission, military technology is especially vital — and Israel has it in spades, while Iran’s defenses are comprised almost entirely of dilapidated anachronisms that predate the Carter Administration. The members of the Revolutionary Guards may have a great deal of jihadist fire in their bellies, but they’re certainly not flying F-16’s.
Having established, with a good deal of credibility in my opinion, that Israel could eliminate or at least delay for years the Iranian nuclear project, another question comes into view. And that is the following: If military action becomes necessary, should Israel carry out the strike, or should America? I don’t have the time at the moment to examine this question, but I would like to do so soon. It will likely not remain hypothetical.