The fact is that both the United States military and NATO plan for all sorts of contingencies and examine all sorts of possibilities. Most of that planning never leads to any concrete action. For those who know my politics here is where I will likely shock some people: in this case I do hope that concrete action in the form of a NATO strike against Iran's nuclear program is imminent.
Yes, I realize that I am advocating military action which will result in people, including many innocent people, being killed. Yes, I fully understand there is at least some small chance that this would lead to a wider war. However, I see only three possible outcomes to Iran's nuclear program:
- The United States and/or NATO strike Iran to stop the nuclear program
- Israel strikes Iran to stop the nuclear program
- Nothing is done and Iran becomes a nuclear power
Iran is not Iraq. There is no question that the nuclear program exists. Iranian leaders, while repeatedly asserting that they are only seeking peaceful use of nuclear power also add that they have a "sovereign right" to develop nuclear weapons if they so choose.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", a call which resulted in widespread international condemnation but no real action. President Ahmadinejad, in explaining his statement, correctly pointed out that he was merely quoting Ayatollah Khomeini. Every Iranian leader has called for the destruction of Israel since the 1979 Islamic revolution. What is different now is that Iran is about to acquire the means to carry out that threat.
Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani openly called for a nuclear attack on Israel on December 14, 2001. His comments included:
Clearly Israel takes the Iranian leadership at its word and takes the threat seriously. A story published in the Sunday Times of London on December 11 claims that Israel is preparing for a strike on Iran by the end of March if diplomacy fails. In a December 20 Knesset briefing IDF Chief of Intelligence, Major-General Aharon Ze'evi Farkash warned that by the end of March it would be impossible to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.
Going back to my three possible outcomes, here is how I see each scenario playing out:
- If nothing is done Iran, either directly with Shahab-3 missiles or through it's proxies, Hizbullah in Lebanon or Islamic Jihad in Gaza, will launch a nuclear first strike on Israel. If the Israeli nuclear capability survives that strike there is undoubtedly a response in kind. The end result is a nuclear exchange with millions of casualties and untold destruction.
- Israel strikes at Iran and destroys the nuclear program. Iran, both directly and through it's proxies, strikes back at Israel, possibly including using chemical weapons. In addition other Muslim (likely Arab) countries may well join Iran. The result is a regional war with massive casualties and destruction throughout the Middle East.
- The U.S. and NATO strike at Iran and destroy the nuclear program. While it is distinctly possible Iran could strike back at U.S. and allied forces in Iraq or at Israel it is unlikely other Muslim nations would enter a war against the United States and Europe. The result is a smaller military conflict with less loss of life and destruction.