Obstacles Mounting Against Israeli Strike on Iran - Page 2
This is more than likely the core reason for Netanyahu reducing the level of sabre-rattling over the past few days. Statistics and forecasts about the 2012 US presidential election are becoming an increasingly vital element of Israeli foreign policy, with at least 62% of Republicans supporting an Israeli strike on Iran, as opposed to 39% of Democrats.
Israel might have a greater chance of persuading the United States to partake in any potential attack if Romney wins the race to the White House. Therefore, Netanyahu has little option but to wait until November. If he leads Israel to war alone, without waiting two months for a potential Republican victory and powerful ally, that choice could prove short-sighted and absurd.
Israel successfully acted alone against the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, as well as a nuclear facility under construction by Syria in 2007. Both of these events were pre-emptive strikes by the Jewish state on one target, catching both Iraq and Syria by surprise. The situation with Iran is completely different. Talk of an Israeli attack has been ongoing for several years, meaning surprise is firmly out of the question while the Iranian nuclear sites are widely dispersed throughout the country.
Any Israeli airstrike would have to dismantle a complex and extremely dangerous Iranian air defense network, in addition to hitting up to eight nuclear sites and associated military facilities. Analysts have questioned whether the Israeli Air Force is capable of carrying out such a complicated operation without the support of the United States and their stealth assets. Israeli F-15I Ra'am and F-16I Sufa fighter aircraft are far more modern and capable than most assets in the Iranian air force, which consists of 1970s and 1980s vintage American and Soviet aircraft. However, distance and fuel would be problematic.
Most of the key Iranian nuclear sites lie beyond the range of Israeli fighters, meaning extensive aerial refueling support would prove necessary. Israel only possesses seven tanker aircraft, meaning a sustained air campaign would be difficult to implement. The route to Iranian targets would prove even more problematic, with Turkey and Saudi Arabia forming a hostile barrier to Israeli aircraft. Even though Saudi Arabia is against the Iranian nuclear program, the Kingdom may deny Israel the use of its airspace. One potential route would be via Jordan and Iraq, with tanker aircraft carrying out refueling operations over the Iraqi desert.Continued on the next page