Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Can Israel Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?

Posted by K.E. White on July 30, 2007

Short-Read: Israel can strike Iran, Human Intelligence Vital to These and Similar Operations

Whitney Raas and Austin Long size up Israel’s ability to successfully strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Their verdict?

“…Israeli leaders have access to the technical capability to carry out the attack with a reasonable chance of success. The question then becomes one of will and individual calculation.” (30)

Using Israel’s Osirak operation as a benchmark, Raas and Long find any future operation against Iran shares the same likelihood as the 1981 attack on Iraq’s nuclear facilities.

The authors compare Israeli and Iranian air defenses and airforces, outline Iran’s main nuclear sites, and show three likely pathways for the attacks.

While Iran’s air defenses are greater than Iraq’s in 1981, Israel’s F-15 and 16 I’s aircrafts coupled with their ready supplies of BLU-109 and BLU-113 bunker busters are more than enough to knock out Iran’s critical nuclear sites.

But don’t think missiles and buttons are the only keys to successful coercive counter proliferation. Israel boasts two specialized forces: Sayeret Shaldag-Unit 5101 (laser aiming) and Unit 5707 (assessment).

Here’s a quick visual on such an operation’s pathways:

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And here’s a review Israel’s targets in Iran:

Iran‘s nuclear complex has three critical nodes for the production of fissile material: a uranium coversion facility in Isfahan, a large uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, and a heavy water plant and plutonium production reactors under construction at Arak. (13)

Read the article for more details, but here’s a boiled down version of the policy implications of the study:

This analysis, however, highlights the critical nature of target knowledge. In many cases, the means of striking or defending WMD targets may be less important than the ability to locate or hid them. Those seeking to stop proliferation would be advised to invest heavily in intelligence collection and analysis, while proliferators should rely on concealing and dispersing rather than hardening targets. (31)

2 Responses to “Can Israel Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?”

  1. bungo said

    where was the article published?

  2. Thank you for your comment. This article was published in International Security, Volume 31, Number 4, Spring 2007, pp. 7-33.

    The full article is not available on-line, but may be purchased on-line or accessed at a research/university library.

    The excerpts published here were intended for discussion and educational purposes, as per the Fair Use Doctrine.

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