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Wiping Israel Off The Map: A Systematic View of Iranian Nuclear Intentions And Capabilities
Jewish Press ^ | 12-13-05 | Louis Rene Beres

Posted on 12/13/2005 1:43:50 PM PST by SJackson

Louis Rene Beres Part I

Iran`s president has called publicly for the Islamic world to "wipe Israel off the map." Further, elements of the Palestinian Authority have now very enthusiastically endorsed this genocidal call. Beyond exclusively emotive reactions, we must carefully and systematically consider the growing Iranian nuclear threat to Israel. To do this properly, we shall begin with a look at the sort of reasoning used by strategic analysis in general. Thereafter, we will move from the general to the particular, from abstract theorizing to palpably concrete considerations of Iran and Israel. In examining existential threats to national security, strategists traditionally distinguish between capabilities and intentions.

These components of a threat are never entirely separate. Indeed, they are often not only interpenetrating and interdependent, but also interactive. This means: (1) capabilities affect intentions and vice-versa; and (2) the combined effects of capabilities and intentions may be synergistic, producing policy outcomes that are greatly accelerated and/or are more than the simple sum of these effects. Understood in terms of Iran`s growing atomic threat to Israel, these relationships between capabilities and intentions now warrant particularly close consideration. For the moment, those who would still downplay the Iranian threat argue that Teheran`s nuclear capabilities remain problematic and/or that its willingness to attack Israel is assuredly very low. Some of this more optimistic argument is based on usual assumptions of rationality, and on associated notions that Iran will indefinitely remain subject to threats of Israeli nuclear deterrence. Yet, over the next 12 months, Iran`s ongoing completion of nuclear weapons could become irreversible, creating conditions whereby even a massive first-strike against Israel might be regarded in Teheran as altogether rational.

Even if it could be correctly assumed that Iran`s leaders will always be rational (a questionable assumption, to be sure) this would say nothing about the accuracy of information used in making rational calculations. Rationality refers only to the intention of maximizing specified values. It says nothing about whether the information used is actually correct. So, perfectly rational Iranian leaders could make errors in calculation that lead their state to begin catastrophic war with Israel.

Whether correct or incorrect in its calculations, an Iranian leadership that believes it can strike Israel with impunity or near-impunity could be strongly motivated to undertake such a strike. Such motivation, of course, would be heightened to the extent that Iran remained uncertain about Israel`s own preemption plans. Here, Iranian capabilities would affect, possibly even determine, Iranian intentions. Regarding acts of anticipatory self-defense by Israel against Iran, my readers are urged to read (available online) the "Project Daniel" Report to Prime Minister Sharon, Israel`s Strategic Future.

For its part, Israel will almost certainly fashion its preemption plans upon a number of critical factors, including, but not limited to: (a) expected probability of Iranian first-strikes; (b) expected harms of Iranian first-strikes (itself dependent upon the nature of Iranian weaponry, projected Iranian targeting doctrine, and multiplication/dispersion/hardening of Israeli nuclear forces); (c) expected schedule of Iranian nuclear weapons deployment; (d) expected efficiency of Iranian active defenses over time (anti-tactical ballistic missile system developments); (e) expected efficiency of Israeli active defenses over time; (f) expected efficiency of Israeli hard-target ("counter-force") operations over time; (g) expected reactions of other regional enemies (e.g., Syria; Saudi Arabia); and (h) expected world community reactions to Israeli preemptions. The Iranian threat to Israel might, on the other hand, originate from another direction. In this scenario, Iran`s intentions toward the Jewish state — hostile and even expressly genocidal, could accelerate and expand Teheran`s development of nuclear military capabilities. Here, representing genuinely far-reaching Islamic hatreds (rather than mere propagandistic bluster), Iranian diatribes to "wipe Israel off the map" would essentially ensure the full production/deployment of extraordinarily destructive forces, weapons and postures.

What I have now described, therefore, are circumstances where Iranian intentions could affect and determine Iranian nuclear capabilities. But what if Iran`s intentions toward Israel were not authentically genocidal? What if its public bombast were not an expression of truly exterminatory motivations, but rather a position designed entirely for political and theological consumption? The short and obvious answer to these questions is that such shallow and contrived intentions would not impact Iranian nuclear capabilities vis-a-vis Israel.

Yet, upon reflection, it is altogether likely that even inauthentic expressions of genocidal intent could, over time, become authentic; that repeated again and again over months and years, such expressions could become self-fulfilling. The most complex relationships between Iranian capabilities and intentions, and potentially the most consequential to Israeli security and survival, concern synergy. Here the issue is not whether, or to what extent, one threat component affects the other; but instead, how certain of their various combinations might (a) produce an ongoing series of interactions that moves relentlessly, through its own dialectical momentum, toward nuclear war; or (b) produce a wholly new effect — an effect of which either capability or intention is individually incapable.

An example of (a) would be an Iranian "bolt-from-the-blue" nuclear attack against Israel that is launched only because of the particular way in which capabilities and intentions feed upon each other. An example of (b) would be any Iranian attack against Israel — bolt-from-the-blue or product of escalation, be it conventional or unconventional — that would not otherwise have taken place. This example is plausible to the extent that one believes Iran would never strike first against Israel — irrespective of Iran`s singular intentions and capabilities — unless these two threat components were judged mutually reinforcing. These calculations are complex and confusing. But let us move immediately to examine even more concrete and urgent concerns.

(To be continued)

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Israel
KEYWORDS: annihilation; iran; irannukes; israel

1 posted on 12/13/2005 1:43:52 PM PST by SJackson
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
If you'd like to be on this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.


2 posted on 12/13/2005 1:44:08 PM PST by SJackson (There's no such thing as too late, that's why they invented death. Walter Matthau)
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To: SJackson
In light of what is happening around the world: Islamic parasites attacking others in: India, China, Thailand, The Philippines, Croatia, Sudan, Russia, Spain, (USA9/11), France, Australia, Israel -- instead of islam destroying Israel it is time the HUMAN race eliminated the muslims!!!
3 posted on 12/13/2005 2:13:56 PM PST by GaryMontana (The future belongs to the bold, not the cowards who hide under rags (ragheads)!)
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To: SJackson
the raghead Pals must believe that such nuke strike fallout
would conveniently stop at their minuscule borders....Typical advanced Arab thinking.
4 posted on 12/13/2005 2:20:41 PM PST by injin
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To: SJackson
Target One: Natanz, Iran

5 posted on 12/13/2005 2:43:01 PM PST by 45Auto (Big holes are (almost) always better.)
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To: 45Auto
Where did you get that image?


6 posted on 12/13/2005 3:15:23 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor! '98'er)
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To: SJackson
Fanaticism blinds the rational mind. The mullahs apparently believe -

Iran's nuclear strikes will be sufficient to destroy Israel (or, in the broader sense, Judiasm).

Israel's retaliatory strike will not be sufficent to destroy Iran (or, in the broader sense, Islam).

That's the problem. If you think that you can fight a nuclear war and win, and you're not deterred by the consequences, you are a danger to tens of millions. Even in the 'best case' scenario, Israel will be destroyed, but so will Palestine. What kind of victory is that?

7 posted on 12/13/2005 3:25:43 PM PST by Steel Wolf (* No sleep till Baghdad! *)
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To: don-o
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
8 posted on 12/13/2005 3:35:44 PM PST by 45Auto (Big holes are (almost) always better.)
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To: Steel Wolf
That's the problem. If you think that you can fight a nuclear war and win, and you're not deterred by the consequences, you are a danger to tens of millions.

And they're not. This isn't new. Note Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani from 2001. In another comment I can't locate, he indicated that 50 million Muslim deaths would be a fair tradeoff, there would still be plenty of Muslims, but no more Jews.

Why wouldn't Israel believe them? Christians might consider phase 2 of the Islamic bomb as well.


TEHRAN 14 Dec. (IPS) One of Iran’s most influential ruling cleric called Friday on the Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only" .

"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world" , Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.

Analysts said not only Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s speech was the strongest against Israel, but also this is the first time that a prominent leader of the Islamic Republic openly suggests the use of nuclear weapon against the Jewish State .

"It seems that Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani is forgetting that due to the present intertwinement of Israel and Palestine, the destruction of the Jewish State would also means the mass killing of Palestinian population as well", observed one Iranian commentator.

While Israel is believed to possess between 100 to 200 nuclear war heads, the Islamic Republic and Iraq are known to be working hard to produce their own atomic weapons with help from Russia and North Korea, Pakistan, also a Muslim state, has already a certain number of nuclear bomb.

In a lengthy speech to mark the so-called "International Qods (Jerusalem) Day" celebrated in Iran only, Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who, as the Chairman of the Assembly to Discern the Interests of the State, is the Islamic Republic’s number two man after Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, said since Israel was an emanation of Western colonialism therefore "in future it will be the interests of colonialism that will determine existence or non-existence of Israel".

Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani made the unprecedented threat as, following new suicide operations inside Israel and against Israeli settlements by Palestinian extremists in PA-controlled zones, responded by Israel’s heaviest bombarding of Palestinian cities, police, communication and radio-television installations, killing and wounding more than 200 people on both sides, resulted in the halting of all contacts between Israel and the PA of Mr. Yaser Arafat.

He said since Israel is the product of Western colonialism, "the continued existence of Israel depends on interests of arrogance and colonialism and as long as the base is helpful for colonialism, it is going to keep it.

Hashemi-Rafsanjani advised Western states not to pin their hopes on Israel's violence because it will be "very dangerous".

"We are not willing to see security in the world is harmed", he said, warning against the "eruption of the Third World War.

" War of the pious and martyrdom seeking forces against peaks of colonialism will be highly dangerous and might fan flames of the World War III ", the former Iranian president said, backing firmly suicide operations against Israel.

Quoted by the official news agency IRNA, Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani said weakening of Palestinian Jihad is "unlikely", as the Palestinians have come to the conclusion that talks would be effective only "in light of struggle and self-sacrifice- the two key elements that gave way to beginning of the second Intifada".

Iranian analysts and commentators outside Iran immediately reacted to Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s statement, expressing fear that it might trigger an international backlash against Iran itself, giving Israel, the United States and other Western and even Arab nations to further isolate Iran as a source of threat to regional security.

" Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world ", Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani warned, blaming on the United States and Britain the "creation of the fabricated entity" in the heart of Arab and Muslim world.

"The man who considers himself as the most able politician in the Islamic Republic utters such nonsense and empty threats at a very time that the hard line and extremist government of Israel under Mr. Ariel Sharon is looking for justification of its repressive policy against Palestinians", said Mr. Ahmad Salamatian, a veteran political analyst based in Paris.

"At a time that the right wing Israeli government is claiming that the very existence of Israel and the Jews are threatened and uses this pretext as an instrument to advance its policy of repression in Palestine, such statements and ushering such dangerous menaces by one of Iran’s top officials is nothing but bringing water to Israel’s propaganda mill, providing it with more justifications explaining its present maximalist policy", he told the Persian service of Radio France Internationale.

Though Mr. Salamatian is of the opinion that Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s words are part of both his own show and the ongoing internal tensions between conservatives and reformers, however, he also agrees with other Iranian analysts that his "untimely" menace could backfire, becoming a justification for threats against Iran, at a time that the United States and its allies are determined to continue the fight against international terrorism.

"One of Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s main characteristics in Iranian politics during the past twenty years is that in order to preserve his own position, he is ready to set fire to all the Caesareas for one handkerchief, including, in the present case, providing Israel with enough pretext to attack Iran", he noted, adding: "for the time being and what is important for Mr. Sharon is that this kind of statements are open invitation for more violence, an encouragement to extremists on either side of the Israel-Palestine conflict".

Observing that despite the fact that Israel is believed to have more than one hundred atomic warheads and the necessary technology to transport them to the very heart of Iran and elsewhere, but no Israeli official nor any newspaper have ever raised the slightest possibility of an atomic threat, "even in defence of their very existence", Mr. Salamatian wondered the reasons behind Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s declaration, which he said should be taken seriously "considering the rank of the man who pronounced it". ENDS RAFSANJANI NUKE THREATS 141201

9 posted on 12/13/2005 3:37:02 PM PST by SJackson (There's no such thing as too late, that's why they invented death. Walter Matthau)
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To: SJackson

Israel needs some nuclear subs with target lists comprising the population centers of their enemies. That way the second strike would make sure there wouldn't be enough virgins to go around, no matter how overwhelming the first strike.

10 posted on 12/13/2005 3:45:41 PM PST by cynwoody
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To: cynwoody
Israel has 3 dolhpin class submarines. These are German built submaries (modified type 209's) which have enlarged torpedo tubes. It is an open secret that Israel has nuclear tipped cruise missles on these subs.
The problem with this second-strike capability is that it is not a deterence.
11 posted on 12/13/2005 4:21:33 PM PST by rmlew (Sedition and Treason are both crimes, not free speech.)
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To: SJackson
oh how I hope & pray that little Israel has several Thermo Nuclear Warheads in their blessed arsenal.
12 posted on 12/13/2005 5:19:48 PM PST by prophetic
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To: prophetic
oh how I hope & pray that little Israel has several Thermo Nuclear Warheads in their blessed arsenal.

blessed arsenal, please, don't bring religion into it this time of year. :>)

13 posted on 12/13/2005 5:22:07 PM PST by SJackson (There's no such thing as too late, that's why they invented death. Walter Matthau)
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To: SJackson
We have come a long way from the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch...

14 posted on 12/13/2005 5:33:31 PM PST by Bosco (Remember how you felt on September 11?)
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To: SJackson

It's a universal maxim of military planners that you must determine how badly the enemy can hurt you based on capabilities alone and then work to prevent it -- not hope that he won't do it.

Not that there is much doubt in Iran's case.

I keep on hoping that the population of Iran will rise up and dethrone the mad mullahs, but that hope is getting increasingly threadbare.

I think Israel is going to take action soon. They would be foolish in the extreme if they didn't.

15 posted on 12/13/2005 6:07:53 PM PST by Ronin (When the fox gnaws.... SMILE!!!)
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To: Steel Wolf

Israel Shoots Down Incoming Missile in Test of Arrow System

[Israel] Air Force successfully tests Arrow Scud buster

Airborne Laser Completes Laser Ground Tests

The Navy also had a successful final series of tests involving its Aegis systems. ...hit missiles that were incoming from outside the atmosphere.

IMO, Iran will turn away from any plans to destroy Israel and see more power in extorting or even launching on Britain.

New Iran missiles can reach London

16 posted on 12/13/2005 6:24:27 PM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: SJackson

somehow I KNEW that would get a rise from you :-)

17 posted on 12/13/2005 6:36:09 PM PST by prophetic
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To: Steel Wolf

If Iran is willing to risk its own destruction, the demise of the Palestinians won't cause a moment's hesitation.

18 posted on 12/13/2005 8:02:27 PM PST by thoughtomator (What'ya mean you formatted the cat!?)
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To: thoughtomator
"If Iran is willing to risk its own destruction, the demise of the Palestinians won't cause a moment's hesitation."

More than that... if they believe they can take out Israel, then they have no further use for the "Palestinians", whom the Islamic world have treated as lower than dirt for decades.
19 posted on 12/13/2005 9:54:14 PM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast (You're it)
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