Israeli Military Strike on Iran Will Lead to a Protracted War and Will Not Solve Nuclear Crisis
The potential for an Israeli military strike on Iran over its nuclear programme has grown sharply, but its consequences would be devastating and would lead to a long war, warns a Paul Rogers in his report “Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects”.* The study follows Israeli reports that Syria is manufacturing Iranian M-600 missiles for Hezbollah, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calling Iran “the ultimate terrorist threat” and saying it was a mistake to think Iran’s nuclear ambitions could be contained, and a call from the United Arab Emirates Ambassador in Washington for a military strike on Iran.
The report builds on Rogers' briefing, "Iran: Consequences of a War" (2006), and analyses recent developments, arguing that Israel is now fully capable of attacking Iran as it has deployed many new systems including US-built long-range strike aircraft and armed drones.
The report outlines the likely shape of an Israeli strike, saying it would:
- Be focused not only on destroying ‘military real estate’ – nuclear and missile targets - but also would hit factories and research centres, and even university laboratories, in order to do as much damage as possible to the Iranian expertise that underpins the programme.
- Would not be limited to remote bases but would involve the direct bombing of targets in Tehran. It would probably include attempts to kill those technocrats who manage Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes.
- Be widely viewed across the Middle East as having been undertaken with the knowledge, approval and assistance of the United States, even if carried out solely by Israel.
Professor Rogers says that, “There would be many civilian casualties, both directly among people working on Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, but also their families as their living quarters were hit, and secretaries, cleaners, labourers and other staff in factories, research stations and university departments.”
While much damage would be done to Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, it would increase Iranian political unity, making the Ahmadinejad regime more stable.
Iran would be able to respond in many ways, argues the report, including:
- Withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and immediate action to develop nuclear weapons to deter further attacks. Such work would use deeply-buried facilities that are reported to be under construction.
- A series of actions aimed at Israel as well as targeting the United States and its western partners including:
• missile attacks on Israel;
• actions to cause a sharp rise in oil prices by closing the Straits of Hormuz;
• paramilitary and/or missile attacks on western Gulf oil production, processing and transportation facilities;
• strong support for paramilitary groups in Iraq and Afghanistan opposing western involvement.
Iran might not respond with military action immediately, but its greatest priority would be to move as fast as possible to developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. The implications of this for international security are huge, according to Professor Rogers:
“An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would almost certainly be the beginning of a long-term process of regular Israeli air strikes to further prevent the development of nuclear weapons and medium-range missiles. Iranian responses would also be long-term, ushering in a lengthy war with global as well as regional implications.”
The report concludes that “the consequences of a military attack on Iran are so serious that they should not be encouraged in any shape or form. However difficult, other ways must be found to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.”
* Note: Months before the Iraq War in 2003, Oxford Research Group published a report, “Iraq: Consequences of a War”, also by Professor Paul Rogers, that warned of high civilian casualties, the development of an insurgency, increased support for al-Qaida and widespread anti-Americanism, if the war went ahead.