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Will Israel Take the Initiative on Iran?

In a commentary, Arnaud de Borchgrave recalls a conversation with an Israeli official who was "speaking privately and not for attribution" in which the official believed Israel would take the initiative in neutralizing (or at least severely hindering) the Iranian nuclear program. Published in the World Peace Herald, the pertinent text is as follows:

All indications are that Israel does not plan to rely on either the U.N. or the U.S. Vice President Cheney said 18 months ago, "the Israelis may well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."

bq. At Israel's National Day reception in Washington last week, an Israeli official, speaking privately and not for attribution said he believed Israel would strike first in the next "month or two or three" and that fighter bombers would not be involved as they were to take out Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor before it went critical in 1981. For Osirak, Israel used fourteen F-15s and F-16s. This time, the Israeli said, it will be missiles. Cruise missiles, we inquired? No, he replied, with a gesture of his hand that went up and down again.

bq. What about pinpointing tunnel entrances to widely scattered Iranian nuclear facilities, we asked? The Israeli responded Israel has its own geo-stationary spy-in-the-sky satellite taking constant pictures of Iran with a resolution down to 70 centimeters. "We know far more than anyone realizes," he said.

Just who the speaking official was and how informed he may have been is anyone's guess, but two things should be kept in mind. First, this is most likely an Israeli Foreign Service official, likely well informed but not a defense policy or operational decision maker and therefor both aware and unaware accordingly.

Second, as a counter, Israel fights daily for its own survival and has relentlessly since 1948 like no other state in history. It should be noted that, considering this, the term 'realistic' in Western defense circles usually connotes some level of caution and prudence. In Israeli defense circles rather, the term 'realistic' more often connotes urgency and dire predicament.

"...with a gesture of his hand that went up and down again." See information on Israel's Jericho-II systems here and here

de Borchgrave's conclusion embraces what appears to be a sober reality, even perceived so now among many initial doubters.

A religious fanatic who believes the return of the 12th imam to earth will be preceded by global death and destruction in his own lifetime, Ahmadinejad presumably sees an Israeli and/or U.S. attack against Iran closing Muslim ranks the world over against the imperialist infidels.

bq. The State Department's top proliferation official said the administration is determined to ensure that "not one centrifuge spins in Iran." Israel is certainly poised to stop the spinning. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Ahmadinejad a "psychopath who speaks like Hitler before taking power." And Israel is not about to succumb to the appeasement of the 1930s.