Fri, Jul 16, 2010
AN ISRAELI attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could launch a protracted regional war and encourage Tehran to build nuclear weapons.
This is the conclusion of a 14-page briefing paper, Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects , issued yesterday by the Oxford Research Group, which promotes peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The report, written by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, points out that Israel’s “potential for action against Iran” has been increased by domestic support and enhanced capabilities, including long-range bombers acquired from the US, drones, tanker aircraft for refuelling, and the establishment by the US, Israel’s ally, of “support facilities” in northern Iraq and Azerbaijan which could be used as staging areas.
The report says that a strike could not be carried out without US “tacit support”, thereby implicating Washington and risking Iranian attacks on US interests, troops, and allies in the Middle East.
Israeli air action would “target a wide range of nuclear and missile facilities” as well as “factories, research centres and university facilities that would underpin the rebuilding of [destroyed nuclear] facilities”. Since such targets are located in or near Iran’s cities, there would be “significant civilian casualties”, states the report. If attacked, it argues, Iranians would unite behind their government which would withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and prioritise development of weapons programmes at underground sites, leading to further Israeli strikes.
This would result in “prolonged conflict” during which Iran could take action that would “affect world oil markets” and exacerbate instability in Iraq and Afghanistan.“Prospects for regional stability and global security would be very seriously damaged.”
The report says the US “political right” and the “powerful Israel lobby that is centred on the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee” advocate “much firmer action” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons than is “currently contemplated” by the Obama administration.
It is relying on sanctions to put pressure on Iran to freeze its nuclear programme.
While Israeli military strikes against Iran would be designed “to put back any nuclear programme for several years” and “target missile” sites, a US campaign would be much more comprehensive.
At present, the report states, “there is no firm evidence” that Iran has taken the decision to create “a small arsenal of nuclear weapons”, but Tehran is “developing the technologies and personnel to enable it to handle a range of nuclear-related systems”.
Consequently, it could take Iran seven years “to produce six useable weapons” once the decision is taken. Recent “construction projects” suggest that Tehran “at least wants the option of a capability, even if it is held in reserve rather than implemented”.
However, to develop an arsenal, Iran would have to break UN safeguards on “its enrichment material, which would set off a major international alert many months before Iran would be able to convert the material into a weapon”.
© 2010 The Irish Times