Thursday, September 11, 2008

US blocking package to support Israeli attack on Iran

The US has blocked approval of a military aid and support package for Israel over the past few months, because of obvious concern that Israel would use it to attack nuclear facilities in Iran. The packaged included a request for a large shipment  of "bunker-buster" bombs, permission to for overflights of Iraq, an advanced technological system and refueling aircraft.
Israelis and US officials have been discussing the Israeli request over the past few months. Rejection would make it very difficult for Israel to attack Iran.
Bunker-buster GBU-28 bombs reportedly requested by Israel can penetrate six meters of reinforced concrete, presumably sufficient for hardened underground nuclear development facilities. An attack on Iran would be easiest if Israel had rights of passage through Iraqi air space.  Americans may have told Israel to try to get such permission from Iraqi PM al Maliki. Since only the US air force could interdict passage, the ruse is transparent.
Given the known range of Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft, an attack would require midair refuelingIsrael Channel 10 reported recently that  U.S. rejected an Israeli request for Boeing 767 refueling tankers. Israel could modify commercially purchased aircraft for this purpose. The IDF is overhauling a Boeing 707 that previously served as the prime minister's plane to serve as a refueling aircraft.
The advanced technological systems Israel requested have not been specified publicly. They may involve cloaking systems to foil radar detection. 
Defence Minister Barak made these requests in Washington in July and was evidently turned down. Americans are supposedly pursuing diplomatic options to halt the Iranian nuclear project, However, the U.S. has agreed to provide Israel with an advanced  U.S. radar system would be stationed in the Negev. The system would double to 2,000 kilometers the range of identification of missiles launched from the direction of Iran, and would be connected to an American early warning system.
Israeli leaders reportedly believe the US has abandoned any plans to attack Iran during the Bush administration's remaining tenure. Diplomatic efforts can only be successful in restraining Iran if there is a credible threat of armed intervention by Israel or the United States. Thus, the rejection of Israeli requests and the apparent reluctance of the US to commit to attacking Iran, stymie diplomatic efforts. Though many advocate engaging Iran, US representative Burns returned empty handed from a meeting with Iranian negotiators and it is not likely that their stance will change in present circumstances.
Even if Israel were to get the equipment to carry out an attack, it is very unlikely that a military solution would be adopted. An Israeli attack would invite retaliation by Hezbollah using long range rockets and by Iran using missiles, as well as blockade of the straits of Hormuz. The straits are a major route for transportation of the world's oil supplies. A blockade would cause a steep rise in oil prices and a world economic crisis. 
Since 1967, Israel has become increasingly dependent on the United States for military aid. This dependence is partly necessitated by the increasing scope and sophistication of modern warfare and escalation in armaments introduced into the Middle East following the Six Day War. Dependence is also fostered intentionally by the United States to maintain some control over Israeli policies, and is convenient for Israel, which enjoys a controversial $3 billion aid package.

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