Thursday, July 15, 2010

Report: Israeli attack on Iran would provoke long war with unpredictable consequences for the region

 President Ahmadinejad inspects an Iranian nuclear facilty (Reuters)

An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would start a long war and probably not prevent Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons. That is the conclusion of  study by a British think-tank, the Oxford Research Group, which promotes non-violent solutions to conflict. It said that military action is not a  solution to prevent Iran to acquire nuclear weapons ambitions.
"An Israeli attack on Iran would be the start of a protracted conflict that would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it," it said in a report. It would also lead to instability and unpredictable security consequences for the region and the wider world, it added.

The report is written by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at the University of Bradford. It says that it is unlikely that the US would  take military action against Iran, but that Israel's capabilities had increased. According to the report Israel could use long-range strike aircraft it acquired from the United States, combined with an improved fleet of tanker aircraft, in combination with long-range drones. Also it is possible that it can make use of support facilities in northeast Iraq and Azerbaijan. All of which increase Israel's potential for action against Iran, according to the report. Israeli leaders usually speak only of leaving all options on the table. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, however, said in May that Israel had the capability to hit Iran.

Any Israeli strike would be focused not only on destroying nuclear and missile targets, but would also hit factories and research centers and even university laboratories to damage Iranian expertise, the report said.
This would cause many civilian casualties, it added. Military action would include the direct bombing of targets in Tehran and probably include attempts to kill technocrats who managed Iran's nuclear and missile programs, the report said.

Iran's responses to an Israeli attack could include withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and immediate action to produce nuclear weapons to deter further attacks, the report said. They could also include missile attacks on Israel, closing the Strait of Hormuz to push up oil prices and paramilitary or missile attacks on Western oil facilities in the Gulf. After a first strike, Israel might have to carry out regular air strikes to stop Iran developing atom bombs and medium-range missiles, the report said. "Iranian responses would also be long-term, ushering in a lengthy war with global as well as regional implications," Rogers said.

The Oxford report estimates that it might take three to seven years for Iran to develop a small arsenal of nuclear weapons if it decided to do so. It said there was no firm evidence such a decision had been taken by the leadership of the Islamic Republic. The United Nations Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran last month over a nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons in secret. Iran says it wants nuclear energy for peaceful uses only. According to the report alternatie options for the West to deal with a possible Iranian nuclear ambition would be to redouble efforts to get a diplomatic settlement or accept that Iran may eventually acquire a nuclear capability and use that as the start of a process of balanced regional de-nuclearization, the report said.

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