Monday, November 8, 2010

Israel v Iran (Part II): The Israeli 'dream strike' on Iran's nuke sites.

   The Israelis are running out of time.

  The Iranians may have enough fissionable material to have their very own big red button of win on the Ayatollah's desk in two years. So what do they do? Do the Israelis launch the attack against the Iranian nuke facilities without American approval? This is the crux of the main Israeli beef with Obama right now; the fact that he won't go along with the Israeli dream strike.

   The US military has gamed the Persian Gulf over and over and the fact that the Iran attack is not happening means the results of those games were not very promising. In 2002, the Pentagon tried to suppress the findings of a huge US war game called "Millennium Challenge" where the US Navy (Blue Force) was pitted against a "hypothetical rogue state" (Red Force) in the region. Red Force was led by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, a total bad ass, whose job was basically to play the role of the butt raped lesser nation at the hands of the mighty technology of the all powerful US Navy. Instead of following the script, this Van Riper guy went off reservation and went all asymmetrical on Blue Force's ass, an ass which consisted of a full US Navy carrier group.

   Though the rules stated both commanders could use any rule in the book, the brass didn't expect the shit Van Riper pulled. Once the war game was up and running Van Riper's force disappeared off radar. He relied on couriers instead of radio to stay in touch with his field officers. The US navy cryptographers were rendered useless in a single blow. He employed novel tactics such as coded signals broadcast from the minarets of mosques during the Muslim call to prayer, a tactic weirdly reminiscent of Paul Revere and the shot heard round the world. He even used carrier pigeons to deliver messages to some of his commanders. God I love this guy! He then launched a daring attack against the US Blue Force carrier group by hundreds of kamikaze speedboats some of which were armed with Chinese Silkworm anti ship missiles. I shit you not. The result was a carrier and two helo carriers sunk along with 13 other assorted ships, the worst defeat of the US Navy since Pearl. The Pentagon had a shit fit and scrubbed the whole exercise, dismissed Van Riper and replayed the whole thing this time making Blue Force 'win'. Basically, the navy brass pretended it never happened. Lunatics in speedboats apparently don't count and are considered 'cheats'.

   Today, nobody at the Pentagon underestimates the serious nature of a war with Iran. Like I said in Part I, the Israelis are comfortable with their 200+ nukes. A Shia nuke removes 'theater dominance' and forces the Israelis to negotiate with the Palestinians for 'peace'. LOL yeah, I just said 'peace' in a Middle Eastern context. The biggest hindrance to Middle East 'peace' right now is a credible check on Israeli power and their nuclear arsenal. And if the Israelis can't get the Americans to neutralize Iran for them, will they go 'rogue' and attempt to do it themselves?

   And this is where the fun stuff really begins my friends.

   Don't get me wrong. The Israeli air force owns a nice spectrum of US hardware. F-15s, F-15 strike eagles, a broad selection of F-16s in interesting variants and they've gamed this attack multiple times. I think the right wing politicians currently running shit over there have this idea in their heads that they might just be able to pull this off. The only restraint right now is the spider tree of possible repercussions. They nailed Saddam's nuke venture at Osirak in 1981 and the Syrian nuke venture outside 'At Tibnah' in the desert in 2007.  Natanz and Bushehr are the new targets. Problem is the Russians have been running Bushehr with their nuclear fuel and their scientists since September so a 2000lb GBU-29 dropped there is going to open up a whole new world of pain.

   So the primary target for the Israelis is obviously going to have to be the main facility at Natanz.

   Take a look at how Natanz has been slowly disappearing under 20ft of reinforced concrete over time. The Israelis have received shipments of 'bunker busters' from the US in the past that can punch through this but curiously Obama blocked a recent shipment of the latest generation in March. [Update: Obama just approved a new shipment of bunker busters to the Israelis in October 2011. Holy shit!] It was made clear to the Israelis in not so subtle a manner to cool their shit down. Obama would obviously like to avoid a whole new war and let sanctions take their course. But the Israelis know full well that sanctions will do nothing to stop the Iranian centrifuges. Hence, the Stuxnet computer worm and 'mysterious explosions' on Iranian air force bases that just happen to kill scientists who know things about nuke fission. Obama, for a time, was not playing the K Street game so the Israeli lobby in Washington  floated some decent bank around DC to help him lose the mid term elections.

   That's not to say shuffling cash around Washington is illegal or that the Israelis are evil. They're just taking advantage of a game with ill defined rules. Hell, the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations (and lobbying groups) have personhood so they can funnel cash to hungry politicians all they want. Let's face it, you buy your way to the top these days and it's tough shit if your opinion is not heard. The only crime these days is having no money.

   So despite the drawbacks, lets get to the fun stuff and say Israel launches the attack solo. Assuming they cannot "legally" use Iraqi airspace, they'll either have to skirt the Turkish border like they did when they bombed the 'At Tibnah' facility in Syria in 2007 or fly South and skirt the Saudi border or use Saudi airspace. (The Saudis have hinted they'd be cool with this. Those Wahhabi loons recently cashed in sixty billion of their petro-dollar fun money for new US military hardware and they hate the Iranians for shitloads of reasons going back three thousand years to the days of the Persian Empire). The Wikileaks document dump just proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt when it turns out Crown Prince Abdullah has been begging the Americans to bomb Iran for them. Who knew, something the Israelis and Saudis can agree on! Either way, the route is going to cost fuel. Lots of fuel. Fully laden F-16s are hungry for juice when pushing through dense low level atmosphere to avoid radar.

   That's where the Israeli weakness truly lies. Their shortage of refuelling tankers, namely 707 tankers. Various estimates state that they have 4-8 of these fat boys available and all will be required to pull off a successful first strike. The less fuel required on each plane, the more ordinance it can carry. So obviously the more 'refuelers' you can field directly co relates with the efficacy of the 'mission'.

   The next question is, what will Iran have waiting for them when they get there?

   The Israelis managed to block an $800 million Iranian deal with the Russians for delivery of the S-300 missile system. That's a seriously nice piece of modern SAM tech and had the Iranians gotten their hands on a few batteries of those, it would have made the Israeli to do list orders of magnitude more difficult. As it stands right now, it's hard to piece together an accurate picture of just what the Iranians have got in terms of air defence. Everyone knows they do have a lot of Soviet supplied SAMS (SA-6) from the 80s which are easily jammed by today's technology. They also have an hilarious mixture of cobbled together systems from the world over, including some British Rapier systems, some shit they reverse engineered from the US before the Shah fell and their Mullahs went all hostage crisis and got Reagan elected. Also, they've got the Tor (SA-15) system supplied by Russia which is quite a capable system and would cause Israeli pilots some underwear skid marks. They also claim to have 2 S-300 systems they say they bought from Belarus and showed off at a military parade in Tehran this summer but that is most likely bullshit they floated to freak out Israeli military planners.

   Where this whole clusterfuck gets really interesting is if the Israelis will be packing some low yield nukes in their ordinance. Because one thing is for sure. Whatever strike the Isrealis make, it'd better be decisive because the amount of blowback all across the world means the Israelis are going to get one shot at this and they better make it count. But using nukes even if low yield and underground with limited fallout is still going to create an international shitstorm. But the Israelis are used to that.

   And now comes my favourite part of this whole war.

   The Iranian response.

   Seriously, this is armchair general wargasm in its purest form. Let's say Natanz is dust and a good many other nuke sites around Iran are seriously damaged, setting back their 'red button of win' program five years. How do the Iranians respond?

   If the Iranians want to go full retard they can launch all their Shahab 4s, two stage rockets that can easily reach Tel Aviv accurately, and reign down some serious pain. Hell, if they wanted to get dick waving crazy they could load up the warheads with chemical hell and wipe out hundreds of thousands. But this would merely invite Israel to nuke them back to the stone age. So that's an unlikely move on their part. The Iranians don't have an air force capable of launching a reciprocal strike on Israel so what do they do?

   My favourite option if I were an Iranian general?

   Attack the Saudi oil installation at Ras Tanura, 100 miles across the Persian Gulf from Bushehr. Forty percent of the world's seaborne oil passes through this port daily. Launch everything you have against that, turn those fat naked storage tanks and pipelines into burning wrecks, and suddenly oil goes to three hundred dollars a barrel overnight and now the whole world is involved in a total clusterfuck.

   Every Western nation's economy will crash fast now that spice flow is hindered. Everyone will be drawn in. And since Iran also happens to be sitting on the 4th largest oil deposit on earth, their oil is going to get valuable fast. The Iranians can spam mines into the Persian Gulf just to make sure no tanker can go about its lumbering business. There will be nothing the US Navy or Israelis can do about any of this unless they can track ten thousand speedboats. Obviously the Saudis will be highly pissed but other than some bombing runs there's nothing they can do to realistically damage the Iranians.

   Also, Iran has threatened other asymmetrical goodness in the event of a sucker punch.

   For instance they've got well equipped heavy infantry in Southern Lebanon by the name of Hizbollah. Basically, a well equipped Iranian proxy army on Israel's northern border. Israel tried to get tough with this crowd in 2006 and found themselves suffering unexpected losses. Heavy infantry in fortified positions is the new win in modern warfare. Sure Clausewitz will say the attacker always needs a 3:1 ratio to overcome entrenched defenders but that paradigm is under new scrutiny on the modern battlefield. With modern weapons Hezbollah proved that that ratio has been pushed up to 5:1. The dirty little secret of 2006 was that Hezbollah damaged the Israelis more than anyone expected. It was the first war in fifty years the IDF didn't decisively win. Equipped with modern anti-tank rockets (RPG-32), shoulder mounted anti-air and concrete emplacements, this Iranian supplied form of heavy infantry proved that they could fuck with the might of the IDF. The Israelis lost 30 of their supposedly invincible Merkava Tanks and their F-16 sorties were flare launch fests because of the threat of being nailed by heat seekers. Entrenched, well equipped heavy infantry is the new passive Blitzkrieg!

   Anyway, the Saudi oil facilities are on fire. Oil has jumped to $300 a barrel. Hezbollah has begun launching rockets at Tel Aviv from Southern Lebanon. Tehran is under radiation alert. Multiple escalation events present in all directions. And the whole world has entered a new paradigm and must ask...

   How do you put the genie back in the bottle?


  1. just found this, nice blog!

    if the US is serious about preventing an attack, the IDF/IAF will have to be more crafty about it; lest they face the ignominy of being intercepted by US birds.

    assuming they can pull off such a surprise attack (and they probably can), the US will be forced to immediately police the gulf to prevent/dampen another oil price shock.

    at this point its basically a US vs. Iran stand-off and everyone thinks WW3 is about to start because, essentially, someone farted.

    Iran obviously does not want to be invaded or shaken up and might even tread so carefully as to hold back on mining the straits. war games have shown massive US losses in the case of a US-Iran war. so neither side wants to fight or start WW3.

    most likely, the police/containment action will be drawn out and become a source of much daily entertainment.

  2. Great blog, hope you keep writing. :)

  3. This is an amazing blog. Good analysis.

    I'd really like your thoughts on a future American, Russian proxy war in Eastern Europe, like the limited one we saw in the 2008 South Ossetia conflict.

  4. Don't forget that China has a hand in this game. They are relying on lots of Iranian oil being available to keep their rising oil expenditure within reasonable cost limits.

    Russia? Not sure about them. A high oil price would actually help rather than hinder them.

  5. Is this the War Nerd writing who used to publish in

  6. Wonderful blog. Get some contact info up!

  7. Teh tankres are 'anonymized' Saudi assets.

    Prepaid with a 'visible' transfer of lowyield two-key thunder to Ryiadh.

    Does this maek General Farsi think twice about takan the nut-punch at Ras Tanura?

  8. How much radioactive shit can you get away with before the Oil goes bad?

    DU is bad enough in the food chain, but a low-level Nuke! Holy fucking Batman! Iran will want to bomb one of Israels facilities to get back to a draw at the minimum.

    Iran would have very specific plans ready for any eventually. And many covert allies in the Arab world. Including non-royal Saudis, and every-bodies favorite Terrorist.

  9. Interesting analysis, particularly on the possible Iranian response. I doubt the Israelis will find it necessary to use tac nukes vs. GBU-28s though, the latter can go through 6 metres of concrete.

    Justin - the War Nerd still writes for the eXile, he recently came back after a long hiatus. Also he was revealed to actually be a nom de guerre of John Dolan. This blog is presumably someone else, but it seems rather likely that Dolan inspired him ...

  10. Thanks for the insightful analysis, what you say seems very plausible and well researched.

    What about Iran's anti ship missiles? Seems to me the Moskit / SS-N-22 Sunburn and the rest of the arsenal could do some serious damage.

    Destroying the oil supply is the easy part, sinking the US carrier group(s) in the area would essentially cut off America's response, and seriously hamper their supply lines in Iraq and these missiles seem capable enough to make this a plausible scenario.

    Obviously this would be the mother of all cluster fucks, but its a potent/plausible response.

  11. Warmonger... :-(
    It would be better to be a peacekeeper.
    Never try to like a war(said it is your "favourite")
    if you studies history you must know how much damage was brought by the war(I am a high school history student, and I am especially fond of war history, I know it quite well.)

  12. Good Lord!

    Just accidently stumbled across this in a random google search.

    Brilliant analysis. Bookmarked!

  13. In other words, you get WWIII! I doubt there is an easy way of doing it, otherwise either Israel or the US (or both) would have done it a long time ago...

    As it stands, Iran has the potential of becoming a regional economic (but for the crippling sanctions) and military power, capable of keeping Israel's psychoses in check and standing in the way of the US' projection of global hegemony. Hence why it's gotta go.

    Btw, if I'm not mistaken, Russia's economic growth and recovery seriously took off in 2003, after the invasion of Iraq bumped up oil prices from $18/barrel to 4-5 times as much. All of a sudden they're getting so much money for their resources, they can't even begin to spend it without pumping up their inflation rate!

  14. Good Sir, you've made my day!

  15. Any thoughts WarTard on former CIA man Bob Baer's recent assessment that Netanyahu and the Israeli right are going to launch an attack on Iran this September, 2011?

    Here's the link:

  16. What dont we know thats stopped Israel so far from an attack? That Iran already has some nuclear bombs? Some top Russians say they have. Russia's Caspian oil access / Iran mean Putin would say to Israel, fuck you. Netanfuckyou is an fascist tosser sure and ugly but is he a total fuckwit? Would he risk an Iranian nuke in Tel Aviv? Can he be sure they could stop it. Would China financially ruin the USA cause it owns the US's arse now and it can. Who the fuck knows. IMHO Israel is a parasite living off the USA and may well draw the US into something that wont be good for it

  17. How does the analysis change now that Obama has given the go ahead for the sale of bunker busters to the Israelis?

  18. How would this affect America? America get's most of it's oil from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela.

    1. You don't think that the price of oil isn't going to go up across the board if 40% of the world's supply gets shut off? Canada isn't going to sell to the U.S. at $100/barrel when Japan will give them $300.

  19. It doesn't matter where America gets its oil. If 40% of the worlds supply is disrupted, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela's oil becomes more valuable due to simple supply and demand in global economics.

    America gets affected because oil is what fuels the global economy and even tiny fluctuations cause price increased. Even during the Libyan war, oil went up $30 and Libya only produced 2% of world supply. Americans paid more for gas even though they don't use Libyan oil.

  20. Hello
    I am an Iranian.
    And I do not know the English language.

    I do not agree with the war. And if they had participated in the war only to defend our country, so we did not attack any other country's territory.
    I think the mentality that you have about the bad propaganda against us.
    And I say that Iran has a nuclear bomb on Israel, but I do not know why you blame Israel.

  21. "Forty percent of the world's oil passes through this port daily."

    Okay, first of all, even common sense should tell you that is not true. 40% of the WORLD'S? NYT pegs it at 10%.

  22. Bad time for Israel to be impatient. I dont see why they can't just cool it until Ayatollah Khomeini dies. How much longer doe he have left anyway? Why not have Mossad/CIA/GID covertly support the Green Movement to get the facebook/twitter revolution started (again). I think it would be better, though not neccessarily easier, to get Iran from within than this shitstorm alternative.

    Love your analysis though.

  23. I dont think Israel will attack alone. If they do attack they will be using their subs, their air power and their long range missiles. But i think NATO will be there with their drones, subs and air power keeping any Iranian response to a minimum. I mean how they can even consider mining the canal if their ports don’t exist? And hundreds of drones are keeping any viable offensive effort from occurring…

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  27. Seriously dude, I never censor anyone on here. But spewing bullshit is just plain wrong. A lot of people have a problem with the Israeli government right now, but that doesn't buy you a ticket to paint a whole group of people with one brush.

    Fuck that shit.

    I have Jewish and Muslim friends. I like to judge people on a person by person basis. You don't get to come on my blog and spew hate speak. Some of the best people I know are Jewish.

    So fuck off to the hole you crawled out of.

  28. A forceful retort War Tard.

    But it only makes me curious to know what the racist shill actually said.

  29. Iran will not respond overtly. THe people will rally to support their government, Iran will simply withdraw from the NPT, and will bury its dead, and rebuild the sites deeper... and after a few years, it will test its first nuke. Congrats. Good job, Israel. Now you've really fucked yourself.

  30. Oh, and once Iran withdraws from the NPT, so will many other members of the Non-Aligned Movement that have backed Iran.

    Imagine - all this could have been avoided if the US just let Iran and the IAEA cooperate in building their civilian enrichment program in 1984 instead of killing that program, forcing Iran to go to Pakistan...

  31. Fantastic blog mate. Not just the ideas & facts but the prose is entertaining as well.
    Bookmarked and sharing around.

  32. Seems like in January 2012, your analysis is becoming more relevant than ever.

    Straits of Hormuz?

    Maybe the US will conduct a war v Iran and do the Israel's job for them!

  33. you glorious bastard

    1. 1. If the US initiates aggression against Iran, what are the chances of Pakistan slipping the Iranians a nuke or two?

      2. It is a fact that the IAEA has been used to spy on various Islamic nuclear programs. What are the chances of Iran grabbing an "inspector" or two and blowing their heads off as spies?

  34. i strongly believe that iranians fooled everyone that wester powere have the map of thier Nuke facilities, when the western forces attech and foud out that there is nothing to bomb, and they are suroneded by massive iranian fire, the word opps will be over and over

  35. Still a very interesting read a year on. Will be interesting to see what the Israelis do now that Obama has been re-elected. I imaging any strike will happen next year after the Israelis vote.