Following latest reports of discovering concealed uranium enrichment facilities in Iran assessed by experts to enable the Islamic Republic to produce nuclear bomb within months, the possibility of Israel launching a pre-emptive action is increasing by the day. The likelihood is for pro-Iran terrorist groups to attack western targets in revenge. Both British interest in the region and mainland Britain are almost certain to be in the sight of such groups.
The government , therefore, must make it clear to Iranian leaders that if they target British interests or subjects to retaliate in the event of Israeli attack on their nuclear facilities the response would be swift, precise and painful taking place on Iran’s mainland, not just condemnation in UN or economic sanctions.
Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his concern, before a commons select committee, that Iran is seeking inter-continental missiles capable of reaching Britain.
Given the universal agreement that the Islamic Republic is hell-bent on developing nuclear devices that can be mounted on such missiles, only idiots would rule out that within three years Iran would pose a direct threat to the United Kingdom national security. Not just national interests outside main land Britain like threats to our allies in the Middle East or the Mediterranean basin, or cut supply of oil, but actually have the ability to wipe out London.
The prime minister answers to the Commons liaison committee followed a marathon cabinet meeting, an hour of which was dominated by Iran with National Security Committee and heads of intelligences as well as security experts briefing coalition ministers on the situation and assessing Iran’s ability to develop the bomb. Inevitably questions were asked whether Iran’s threat was real, imminent and require a pre-emotive action, as the Israelis have been warning, or was just the Israelis crying wolf as they did over the past few years ( a claim by the left and anti Israeli campaigners ).
When asked about sources of the intelligence, Downing street sources kept repeating that Iran’s missile quest was not new news but reports made before especially by American intelligence agencies ( CIA published reports of Iranian technological advances, with external help that’s would enable them to have missiles capable of reaching mainland America by 2015). Obvious government was treading carefully on the issue to emphasise it was a threat to the international order not just to Britain. In addition the Prime Minister during his statement to the Commons (on the council of Europe) on Monday, repeatedly mentioned cooperation with UN, EU and the Arab league over Iran.
The albatross left by Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell with his dodgy dossier over Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons still hanging at Downing Street ( hence NO 10 spokesman replies to lobby journalists that information regarding Iran’s missile and nuclear programme are well publicised).
“The evil that men do lives after them,” as Mark Antony says when he came to bury Caesar. Thus the current dilemma facing Cameron government today over dealing with Iran is not only in foreign policy since a of military action would invite Iranian retaliations but also the legacy of the wide accusations ( which many believe) of Blair misleading British public (if not parliament) over the now proven false claim of Iraq’s 45 minutes threat of deploying weapons of mass destruction against UK. This claim at the despatch box and New Labour spin machine over Saddam’s armament programme made it near impossible for a British prime minister to back a pre-emptive military action to prevent a grave danger to British national security. Unfortunately influential forces in British politics still refuse to accept the existence of such threat as their vision (and that of many MPs on all sides) is fogged by Blair’s Iraq war.
Regardless of whether Israel take a unilateral action to pre-empt Iran’s existentialist threat (given President Obama’s hesitation) should be of little importance in assessing Iran’s direct threat to UK interests. Britain’s political class must not allow leftists and anti-war campaigner to exploit Blair’s legacy and scare us of taking appropriate steps.
Because the mood among most MPs and the LibDems coalition partners is not to go to war, they might dupe themselves into believing some non-sense about the ability to contain Iran’s nuclear threat, believing that a the cold war balance of mutual destruction could be applied today in case of Iran.
This will by a grave misreading of history , given the nature of the Khomeinism ideology and the foundation myth of the paranoid Islamic republic which is a hatred for America and Britain. Iranian school children are taught a twisted version of history making Britain mainly (although the CIA played a larger part in that) responsible for the Mosadaq coup which returned the Shah to the throne in 1953.
I recall an incident nearly 40 years ago when Ayatollah Rohalla al-Khomeini was exiled in Shia holy town Najaf, southern Iraq. He was staying as an honoured guest with his Iraqi peers of Shia clergymen. During a children rough play, a seven year Iraqi boy threw a stone grazing the forehead of another child from an Iranian family among Khomeini’s entourage. An argument between the mothers developed into families’ fight prompting village elders to ask Khomeini as the most senior Ayatollah present to arbitrate. The Ayatollah insisted in summoning the two boys, ordering the seven year old Iraqi boy to be tied down and pressurised the injured boy to use a stone to cut the other boys forehead. As two the terrified seven year old boys were lead away in tears, Imam Khomeini simply declared that feud was now over since justice was done!
Unlike mahatma Ghandi famous saying “an eye for an eye justice would leave us with half blind world,” Khomeinis justice of an eye for an eye and a stone for a stone is at the heart of the Islamic Republic political philosophy in dealing with the outside world. And since they still teach in their schools and seminars that it was Britain that organised the coup that got rid of their nationalist Prime Minister Mosaddeq in 1953, and brainwashed three generations that Britain handed Muslim Palestine on a platter to the European Jews to establish Israel (while the fact is opposite as British mandate authorities in Palestine were targeted by Jewish nationalist groups in a long deadly campaign of terror including bombing and kidnapping) and that Britain and the Jews designed and direct America’s crusade against Muslims, then there is a score Iran must settle with Britain based on Khomeini’s justice. Except the stone could very well be a nuclear bomb.
Among security experts I asked over the issue, five favour using military force to stop Iran getting the bomb instead while only two think it was possible to contain a nuclear Iran.
Iran using the bomb to wipe Israel off the map ( as the Iranian president did say ) is still a possibility, but more realistic is Iran using its ultimate weapon to blackmail the other nations in the Gulf to set its own rules, empower or arm shia groups to cause trouble, determine the price of oil or stop its flow to the west. They might even target a Royal Navy ship in the Gulf as a show of force. Or at least, some nuclear material might find its way to terrorists groups making July 2005 bombing seems like a picnic.
One or All those horrifying possibilities could take place after Iran would have developed the bomb and nothing could be done about it.
The other option is to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. But the window of opportunity of doing so is closing rather fast. Iran is working round the clock to reinforce the previously secret facility of Fordow, dug into a mountainside in the Great Salt Desert, home to 696 centrifuges for enriching uranium. They are protected by layers of rock and earth some 260ft deep.
When complete in a matter of months, the site is likely to be invulnerable to the GBU-28, the heaviest “bunker busting” bomb in the arsenal of Israel’s air force. Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, has said it would be t hen too late to do anything about it.
Israel can cause a great deal of damage only to the ramp leading to the entrance and the loading bay machinery. This will only cause delay for a few weeks no more.
The heaviest bunker-busting bomb in the US arsenal is the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, weighing 14 tons – three times the weight of the most powerful device deployed by Israel. America is not likely to share the technology with Israel. In addition the GBU-57 can only be the B-52 while President Obama is reluctant to take a pre-emptive action.
If Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu decides to gamble and go it alone, Israel can’t cause serious damage to Iran’s nuclear programme as it did to Saddam Hussein’s reactor with one raid in 1981. Iran has some 18 sites all over the country and believed to have at least half a dozen or so secrete ones. It means several days of bombing with Israeli air force losses as well as civilian causalities since many sites are located in populated area as a deliberate policy to turn world public opinion against whoever raids them. In addition it is almost certain that pro-Iran media in Arab and Muslim countries would inflame public opinion during those raids.
But other consequences could be serious inviting Iranian retaliations through pro Iran terror groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza who would shower Israeli populated centres with rockets.
Nevertheless Iran’s support in the region is not as high as it was in January 2011 before Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. Its backing of Assad’s dictatorship – where reports of Iranian revolutionary guard taking part in slaughtering protesters- lost Iran a great deal of support. Yes Iran retaliations could be costly, but not as costly and as hurting as they would have been 14 months ago, and certainly the mess of Iran’s retaliation will be relatively short lived, and easier to clear than the cost to the world if Iran was allowed to develop the bomb.
Iran also might use sleeper cells of Islamists extremists to carry out attacks against Britain, and therefore the government must make it clear to the Ayatollahs that any terror attacks on British soil to avenge a possible Israeli attack, will be met with a swift, decisive and precise against the very heart of Iran’s economic and industrial centres.
©Copyrights Adel Darwish 2012, not to be reprinted, quoted or reproduced in part or whole without permission from the author