2012 September 01 Saturday
Will Israel Attack Iran Nuke Facility?

Due to a lack of ability to strike deep underground the Israeli window of time for attacking Iran's nuclear weapons program is going to close soon. The reason: Iran's nuclear program is moving into a deep underground Iranian facility.

American officials have repeatedly tried to assure the Israelis that they have the country’s back — and to remind them that Israel does not have the ability, by itself, to destroy the facility, built beneath a mountain outside Qum. The United States does have weaponry that it believes can demolish the lab, but in Mr. Obama’s judgment there is still what the White House calls “time and space” for diplomacy, sanctions and sabotage, a combination the Israelis say has been insufficient.

What I do not understand: Why haven't the Israelis developed the means to destroy the Qum Fordow facility?

The United States has the 30,000 lb Massive Ordinance Penetrator bunker buster bomb which cost the US Air Force only $200 million to develop. So why haven't the Israelis developed such a bomb themselves? A few hundred million dollars is well within the range of their weapons budget. Do they lack the base technology from which to construct it?

Do the Israelis lack a means of delivery for such a large weapon? A Boeing 777 Freighter can carry 229,000 pounds of freight. Surely the Israelis could modify one to allow it to drop something out an added rear cargo door. Basically, upgrade it into a military freight aircraft and then use it on a bomb run. They could probably manage to get the aircraft over Iranian airspace by having it pretend to be on a conventional freighter flight.

It would be unwise of the Israelis to trust their security to the United States. The US is a declining power and its demographics are shifting in ways that will reduce US support for Israel in the future. Though I am far less concerned about the impact these changes will have on Israeli security than they'll have on American citizens.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 September 01 09:41 AM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis


Comments
Mthson said at September 1, 2012 1:07 PM:

If I was going to lose money if I bet wrong, I'd bet nothing gets done and Iran becomes a nuclear power.

The West is filled with liberals who root for their nations' competitors and enemies.

But Iran will likely just use it to diminish the US's desire to be world police. And our military budget could probably be 10% of its current level, and my life would be unchanged.

Mike said at September 1, 2012 1:22 PM:

Israel will do nothing of that sort and neither will the West. Iran's going to become nuclear, period. Nothing's going to happen, because there's nothng anybody could or want do about it.

Sorry folks, no war, no invation, no bombing, no leader removal, no nothing. You can all relax and don't lose any sleep over it.

Mark said at September 2, 2012 7:38 AM:

"The United States has the 30,000 lb Massive Ordinance Penetrator bunker buster bomb which cost the US Air Force only $200 million to develop. So why haven't the Israelis developed such a bomb themselves? A few hundred million dollars is well within the range of their weapons budget. Do they lack the base technology from which to construct it?

Do the Israelis lack a means of delivery for such a large weapon? A Boeing 777 Freighter can carry 229,000 pounds of freight. Surely the Israelis could modify one to allow it to drop something out an added rear cargo door. Basically, upgrade it into a military freight aircraft and then use it on a bomb run. They could probably manage to get the aircraft over Iranian airspace by having it pretend to be on a conventional freighter flight."

Stop giving the Israelis ideas...

Wolf-Dog said at September 2, 2012 10:27 AM:

The Massive Ordnance bunker buster bomb can penetrate only 60 feet of reinforced concrete.

1) The bunkers under the mountain at Fordow are supposed to be many hundreds of feet underground, and the tunnels are assumed to be very widely dispersed in unknown directions. Thus, even the Massive Ordnance Penetrator bomb is almost certainly insufficient even if the mountain rock is much softer than reinforced concrete.

2) It is reported that the Iranian government dispersed its nuclear facilities among nearly a hundred installations, many of which are at unknown locations (probably also buried underground in addition to being at unknown places.)


For these two reasons, even if the US and EU take responsibility for a massive air strike instead of Israel, this will still only delay the inevitable by a few years at most. And any Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities will actually galvanize the Iranian people around their not so popular government, adding legitimacy to their nuclear ambitions.


3) In Europe there is so much prejudice against Israel that already most Europeans think that the problems in the Middle East are caused by Israel. Thus if Israel attacks the Iranian nuclear facilities before the US and EU start bombing first, then this will turn Israel into a pariah state, in such a way that when Iran finally builds its nukes, even this will be blamed on Israel as if it were Israel that provoked the Iranian nukes by attacking these installations.

In other words, what the world needs to understand is that the nuclearization of the Islamic world is inevitable, and that preparations must be made to deal with this situation. The only question is how exactly the Islamic world will behave after the nuclearization. Will they unite against the West, and if so what concessions will they demand? The answers to the latter two questions must be anticipated as soon as possible, so that a logical future general policy is constructed in a timely manner.

Randall Parker said at September 2, 2012 8:25 PM:

Wolf-Dog,

Yes, the MOP isn't good enough and another rev of MOP is coming this year that can penetrate much further. So maybe DOD can take out the Iranian facility without going nuclear to do it.

Wolf-Dog said at September 2, 2012 11:32 PM:

Randall Parker: " another rev of MOP is coming this year that can penetrate much further. So maybe DOD can take out the Iranian facility without going nuclear to do it."
------------------------

The stated target of 300 feet instead of the current 60 feet of rock that the latest generation MOP can penetrate, still won't not be enough because A) the tunnels are dispersed widely, and B) there are many other unknown nuclear facilities that are very widely scattered all over Iran.

Thus even with the upgrade, in fact, even with nuclear bunker busters the only success will be a delay of a few years, and this delay will be offset by a more determined and ambitious Iran (and the Muslim world) that will pour all their energy to nuclear weapons. The other rival Muslim countries will also join the same arms race. Within 10 years all the Gulf states plus Egypt and Turkey will also go nuclear. When this happens, the question is how the rising Islamic block will behave: will they unite and take a hostile posture against EU and the US? And if so, what concessions will they demand?

Thus from now on, the most important component of the Western military policy should be to prepare to deal with a new form of cold war against the Middle East in addition to other rivals in the world. And this is why Romney's stated goal of starting a national policy of attaining energy independence by 2020, makes a lot of sense: so far I have ALWAYS voted for the Democrats, but if Romney were serious about this plan to attain energy independence, I would vote for the Republicans for the first time:) After all, if we allocate a well structured plan to build a dozen nuclear reactors to "boil" raw coal to make coal gas that will be transformed into diesel fuel, this would be economically competitive with the cost of oil. Then use the resulting CO_2 byproduct from this process to inject it underground to enhance the extraction of oil, the previously "unrecoverable" oil trapped underground is many times more than what can be extracted very easily. There is enough oil, coal and gas in the US to extract for at least 100 years if we use the new technologies. A parallel Manhattan project for energy, in both hydrocarbons, renewables, wind, new batteries, would cost a lot LESS than the $1 trillion we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the additional psychological and economic cost of caring for the wounded and brain damaged soldiers, which will exceed the officially stated $1 trillion already lost in these wars.) Putting charging pods in ever street would cost about one year of imported oil.

Kent Gatewood said at September 3, 2012 1:57 PM:

What will Israel's/Iran's casualties be after 1) a limited Israeli strike, 2) a full conventional war, 3) a one sided nuclear war, 4) a two sided nuclear war? Assumption Saudi Arabia lets Israel use air space for #1.

While this is taking place, we secure our borders and deport millions of aliens both legal and illegal.

Check it out said at September 3, 2012 2:24 PM:

>"While this is taking place, we secure our borders and deport millions of aliens both legal and illegal."

Wow, you must be a Native American Indian, that you want to deport even LEGAL aliens.

Anthony said at September 4, 2012 11:01 PM:

The Israelis know all this. That's why they've decided to shorten the life expectancy of Iranian nuclear scientists instead. It's cheaper, and it's more likely to be effective. Iranians are a smart people, and Iran will produce many people capable of being nuclear weapon designers. However, they're smart people, and will prefer to study subjects which will make them more money while being less personally dangerous. Eventually, there won't be enough people good enough to keep Iran's nuclear program working well enough that the Iranians can count on their nukes being usable.

Tom the Redhunter said at September 7, 2012 6:16 PM:

Interesting post, but I'm afraid the idea of packing a 777 with explosives and using it as a weapon is more than a little bit of fantasy. It would show up like a blimp on Iranian radar and they'd blow it out of the sky with little difficulty. Then there's the little problem of flying it remotely, not as easy as movies make these things seem.

I'm more than a little disappointed that none of your commenters picked up on this either.

bty, I came here because there's a link to my blog somewhere on your side. Thank you for your interest.

Randall Parker said at September 9, 2012 4:40 PM:

Tom,

Three ways thru Iranian air defenses:

1) Pretend to be a passenger airliner.

2) Use electronic countermeasures to fool the radar.

3) Send missiles in to take out the radar first.

Kent Gatewood said at September 10, 2012 12:00 PM:

Israel asked for 100 GBU-28s (5000 lb bomb). Can an air force stack their bomb to go deep?

Kent Gatewood said at September 10, 2012 7:15 PM:

Israel owns C130s. America dropped BLU82s, a 15,000 pound bomb, and GBU43s, a 21,700 pound bomb, from C-130s.

Ronnie Mac said at September 16, 2012 12:49 PM:

What the hell business do we have attacking Iran may I ask.

Ronnie Mac said at September 16, 2012 12:51 PM:

Answer. We have no business attacking Iran or even wishing for that.

Ronnie Mac said at September 16, 2012 12:55 PM:

If America continues bombing and going deep, sooner or later somebody's gonna jam a big one up Miss Liberty's ass.

Will Robinson said at September 17, 2012 9:25 PM:

The 777 is not capable of being fitted with a rear cargo door of this type, without a complete redesign of the entire empennage. Converting a 777 or any current generation fly by wire aircraft into a large UAV/drone/missile would be strictly a matter of software, though. The Israelis have the expertise to do this, and can get around the considerable issues presented by efforts by the avionics vendors to thwart efforts to do things like this by virtue of having Jewish 'sayanim' as engineers in every major aerospace firm, including Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, and anyone else which comes to mind. Schematics, source code, and the internal supporting docs to use same are always on electronic CAD systems, and again the engineering IT departments of said firms are.....you get the idea.

I was a technician on ARINC 429 systems at one time and one of the things we used to talk about before 9/11 was that a person flying as a passenger could access test and control ports located inside the cabin of the aircraft with a laptop and a small interface module and take over the aircraft. After 9/11 no one would discuss such an idea even in known company out of fear of being charged with conspiracy. My understanding is that on several aircraft, test ports were removed from passenger-accessible spaces for this very reason despite inconveniencing maintenance crews. Still, building a dedicated box with internal inertial guidance and getting access to flight deck or electronics compartment access points would be another alternative, at least in theory.

Will Robinson said at September 17, 2012 9:26 PM:

The 777 is not capable of being fitted with a rear cargo door of this type, without a complete redesign of the entire empennage. Converting a 777 or any current generation fly by wire aircraft into a large UAV/drone/missile would be strictly a matter of software, though. The Israelis have the expertise to do this, and can get around the considerable issues presented by efforts by the avionics vendors to thwart efforts to do things like this by virtue of having Jewish 'sayanim' as engineers in every major aerospace firm, including Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, and anyone else which comes to mind. Schematics, source code, and the internal supporting docs to use same are always on electronic CAD systems, and again the engineering IT departments of said firms are.....you get the idea.

I was a technician on ARINC 429 systems at one time and one of the things we used to talk about before 9/11 was that a person flying as a passenger could access test and control ports located inside the cabin of the aircraft with a laptop and a small interface module and take over the aircraft. After 9/11 no one would discuss such an idea even in known company out of fear of being charged with conspiracy. My understanding is that on several aircraft, test ports were removed from passenger-accessible spaces for this very reason despite inconveniencing maintenance crews. Still, building a dedicated box with internal inertial guidance and getting access to flight deck or electronics compartment access points would be another alternative, at least in theory.

Sam said at September 20, 2012 11:31 PM:

It's been said that remote control capabilities were built into all the planes involved on 9/11 and that an Israeli company was the vender for said systems. So they already have a system to use.


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