Friday, March 6, 2015

Well, That's a Relief

Earlier today I posted an excerpt from an Israeli web site that specializes in defense matters. The site raised the specter of a nuclear bomb dropped into the Mediterranean by Iran generating a tsunami that could wipe out Tel Aviv. I said that I didn't know if this were even possible and now I find out that it's not, or at least there's good reason to think that it's not.

A piece at Real Clear Defense explains why not. The short version is, "There is just no explosive powerful enough — atomic or otherwise — that can displace the amount of water required to create waves powerful enough to destroy cities."

For which we can all be grateful. Now we can just worry about Iran affixing their nukes to missiles and delivering them the old-fashioned way.

What's Israel Afraid of?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress last Tuesday to explain why any deal with Iran that lets them continue their nuclear weapons program or allows them to keep the machinery in place to start it up again is a bad deal for the world. The speech was in my view Churchillian and Netanyahu seems to be filling the role of spokesperson for the free world, a role formerly played by whomever was serving as the president of the United States.

Be that as it may, it might be wondered what would be so bad about Iran developing a few nukes. Other nations have them, and besides, how would Iran deliver them? They have no air force to speak of and their missiles would probably be shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defense system, so why all the fuss?

However, even if these reasons for not being overly concerned about an Iranian nuclear capability were all granted, the question naively assumes that it's Iran's intention to put their nukes in missile warheads and launch them at Israel, but there's another possible scenario that's far more worrisome, DEBKAfile explains: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks out against Iran becoming a pre-nuclear state that could at any time cross the line agreed to in diplomacy with the US and build a bomb whenever it chooses. Netanyahu has never spelled out the mechanics of this threat to Israel’s survival.

There's one potential scenario that, given Israel’s small size, would call for no more than one nuke to destroy its heartland and inflict at least an estimated million casualties. This nuclear bomb or device would be dropped from an IranAir civilian airliner on a regular run from Larnaca over the Mediterranean about 100 km from the Israeli coast.

After the plane disappeared, the delayed action mechanism would detonate the bomb and set off a tsunami. Giant waves would swamp the densely populated Tel Aviv conurbation and its satellites. This 1,500 square kilometer area is home to some 3.7 million people, nearly half of the country’s entire population, its military and banking centers, hi-tech industry and the stock exchange. The cost in lives would be cataclysmic – at least a million dead.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary rulers make no secret of their plans for Israel. On Feb. 26, the second day of Iran’s 2015 war games, a senior Revolutionary Guards officer declared that Iran had the ability to wipe the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv off the face of the earth.

I don't know if a nuclear blast over the Mediterranean could generate a tsunami, but if it could it would seem there'd be no way to stop this kind of a threat apart from keeping Iran from developing a bomb in the first place.

DEBKAfile adds that there's no doubt that Israel’s defense chiefs have set up defenses and a second-strike capacity in mountainous areas outside the range of a tsunami and far from Israel’s shores, but deterrence only works against rational people. It doesn't work against fanatics who are eager to precipitate the end of the world and more than eager to sacrifice themselves to bring it about.

Moreover, A nuclear Iran almost certainly means, as Netanyahu pointed out, a nuclearized Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Iraq. These countries will not sit by and let Iranian Shiites gain hegemony over the region. Any deal that the Obama administration strikes with Iran that leaves them with the capability to build a nuclear weapon is extremely foolhardy, which is what Netanyahu tried to convince us of on Tuesday. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons there will almost certainly be nuclear war. One hopes that our leadership in the White House believes that.