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Iranian nuclear facility Photo: AP
Iranian nuclear facility Photo: AP
 
 

US said to mull 'surgical strike' on Iran

International relations expert David Rothkopf says US, Israel 'zeroing in' on military options; credible threat of pinpoint strike may prove to be a useful diplomatic tool

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 10.09.12, 07:10 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – The US and Israel are "zeroing in" on the possibility of mounting a surgical strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, international relations expert David Rothkopf said in an article published by Foreign Policy Magazine, Tuesday.

 

According to Rothkopf, a former Clinton Administration official and one who is considered to be close to high-ranking officials in the Obama Administration, the threat of such a strike just might "have a chance of deterring the mullahs."

 

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The leak may also be a trial balloon launched by the White House in an attempt to see what such prospects may bring politically.

 

Rothkopf cited "a source close to the discussions" as saying that the option discussed at this time is based on "a joint US-Israeli surgical strike targeting Iranian enrichment facilities."

 

The aerial strike "might take 'only a couple of hours' in the best case and only would involve a 'day or two' overall," the source said.

 

Such an operation would involve mostly bombers and drone support.

 

Rothkopf said that the advocates of this policy within the administration believe that it would not only achieve the immediate goal of creating a substantial setback to Tehran's nuclear program; it is also likely to be "more politically palatable" within the United States.

 

Such a move, according to the article, would bear region-wide benefits, "Saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come."

 

Rothkopf also hedged that posing a credible threat of attack – perhaps in lieu of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand for a "clear red line" – may actually prove to be "a useful diplomatic tool; and perhaps a political one, too."

 

Still, Rothkopf stresses that while such an approach may limit the costs of a full-fledged US military campaign in Iran, its complexities still prevent Israel from mounting a unilateral strike, for operational reasons if nothing else.

 

"To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordo, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering," he said.

 

"The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others."

 

Meanwhile, the US-based independent news website WND reported Tuesday that Iran is getting closer to developing nuclear warheads.

 

The report, signed by self-proclaimed "former CIA double agent" Reza Kahlili, said that Washington has evidence that Iran has already developed weapons-grade uranium and also has the ballistic capabilities to fire them.

 

The Washington Post had written an article doubting the pseudonymous Kahlili's credibility in the past, noting that he has made such claims before and that they were met with widespread skepticism.

 

A US counter-proliferation official dismissed Kahlili’s uranium claims: “We’ve had real successes in acquiring some of the Iranian government’s most tightly held secrets, including discovery of its concealed enrichment facility near Qom,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “But things like 90% enrichment just don’t tally out.”

 

 

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