Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

World Agenda: Nuclear-armed Iran is fear as Netanyahu visits Obama

Posted by claudiacampli su 1 aprile, 2009

April 1, 2009

It was the first issue he mentioned after being elected, and was uppermost on his mind again this week when he swore in his government: it is safe to say that a nuclear-armed Iran will also be top of the agenda when Israel’s new Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, meets Barack Obama in Washington next month.

Mr Netanyahu’s constant reminders of the existential threat facing his country – he has compared it to the Nazi Holocaust – leave him little room to back down, as military intelligence increasingly points to the fact that Iran is about to acquire a nuclear weapon.

The question on everyone’s lips is, behind the rhetoric, will – and can – Israel go it alone? If so, how?

The bombing of an Iranian arms convoy being smuggled through Sudan to Gaza in January proved that range is no problem. And Israel’s daring bombing of Syria’s suspected nuclear reactor, which was being developed with Iranian backing, in 2007 showed that the Israeli air force – which swung through Turkish air space to avoid sophisticated Syrian missile defences – does not lack ingenious methods of attack.

In the Sudanese bombing, the Israeli military used F-16 fighter-bombers escorted by F-15 fighters to ward off any possible counter-strike by Sudanese jets while they destroyed their target. Then unmanned drones surveyed the wrecked convoy, showing it was only partially damaged, upon which the high command ordered the bombers in for a second strike.

The use of drones has revolutionised warfare in recent years. They can circle at high altitude for far longer than manned fighters, gathering intelligence or delivering a small but often deadly payload. In the recent Gaza war, they were what Hamas fighters feared most – an unseen enemy tracking them, capable of striking or calling in the big guns at a minute’s notice. They can also be shot down without the risk of losing an airman’s life, or the high cost of mounting a rescue or facing a hostage situation.

They may already have been deployed in Israel’s efforts to counter Iran’s dash to nuclear capacity. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, said last month that unidentified drones – widely assumed to be Israeli—disrupted the launch of a rocket carrying Iran’s first satellite into space. Hovering at great height, the intruder jammed electronic communications, causing a delay of several hours and necessitating the use of back-up systems to complete the launch.

The belligerent President was also reported to have decided to use fighter planes to shoot the drone down – as US forces did to an Iranian drone in Iraqi air space recently — but for unexplained reasons the order was not carried through.

The message of the intrusion was clear, however: Israel can penetrate Iranian airspace with impunity, and in Syria and Sudan it has shown that it retains the capacity to launch long range attacks such as the 1981 destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, which permanently derailed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear programme.

Logistically, Israel has a number of ways of approaching Iran. There was speculation last year that Israel’s close military ties to Georgia, which came to light during the Russian invasion of South Ossetia, extended to using it as a launch pad to attack Iran, heading south through Armenian airspace before anyone had time to react.

The key question is what Iran’s response would be, and on that will hang US backing. Aside from its long-range missiles, quite capable of reaching Israel, Iran has powerful proxies spread across the region and poised to strike at Israel or the over-extended US military.

The Sudanese convoy reportedly contained rockets for Hamas that could reach Tel Aviv from Gaza. Combined with the Katyusha rockets that Iran’s allies Hezbollah could fire from the north, Iran’s tentacles would have been able to reach deep into the heart of Israel’s coastal population centres.

Iran could also stir up serious trouble militarily for the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying training, weaponry and financing to the various militias there, as it gave deadly and almost unstoppable EFPs — explosively formed penetrators — to the Shia Mahdi Army in Iraq, and, allegedly, to al-Qaeda affiliates.

So when Mr Netanyahu visits Washington, he will be drawing on all his credentials as a security expert and articulate advocate of the use of force to persuade Mr Obama that all options should, indeed, be on the table, as he has so often told his domestic audience.

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