Israeli Military Strike on Iran Would Lead to a Protracted War and Wouldn’t Solve Nuclear Crisis
By Professor Paul Rogers in Oxford Research Group
London, 9 November 2011: At a time of renewed media speculation about the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran over its nuclear programme and ahead of today’s IAEA report, Oxford Research Group (ORG) is publishing its briefing ‘The Long-term Consequences of an Israeli Attack on Iran’. The briefing by ORG’s Global Security Consultant, Professor Paul Rogers, builds on his widely quoted report, ‘Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects’ from July 2010.*
Paul Rogers argues in this briefing that Israel is now fully capable of attacking Iran as it has deployed many new systems including US-built long-range strike aircraft and armed drones.
The briefing outlines the likely shape of an Israeli strike, stating:
It would be focused not only on destroying ‘military real estate’ – nuclear and missile targets – but also would hit factories and research centres, and even university laboratories, in order to do as much damage as possible to the Iranian expertise that underpins the programmes.
It would not be limited to remote bases but would involve the direct bombing of targets in Tehran. It would probably include attempts to kill key leaders, especially the experienced technocrats who are responsible for Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes.
It would be widely viewed across the Middle East as having been undertaken with the knowledge, approval and assistance of the United States, even if carried out solely by Israel.
Professor Rogers said that, “There would be many civilian casualties, both directly among people working on Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, but also their families as their living quarters were hit, and secretaries, cleaners, labourers and other staff in factories, research stations and university departments.”
While much damage would be done to Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes, it would increase Iranian political unity, making the current regime more stable.
Iran would be able to respond in many ways, argues the briefing, including:
– Withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and immediate action to develop nuclear weapons to deter further attacks. Such work would use deeply-buried facilities that are reported to be under construction.
– A series of actions aimed at Israel as well as targeting the United States and its western partners including:
– missile attacks on Israel;
– actions to cause a sharp rise in oil prices by closing the Straits of Hormuz;
– paramilitary and/or missile attacks on western Gulf oil production, processing and transportation facilities;
– strong support for paramilitary groups in Iraq and Afghanistan opposing western involvement.
Iran might not respond with military action immediately, but its greatest priority would be to move as fast as possible to developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. The implications of this for international security are huge, according to Professor Rogers:
“An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would almost certainly be the beginning of a long-term process of regular Israeli air strikes to further prevent the development of nuclear weapons and medium-range missiles. Iranian responses would also be long-term, ushering in a lengthy war with global as well as regional implications.”
The briefing concludes that “the consequences of a military attack on Iran are so serious that they should not be encouraged in any shape or form. However difficult, other ways must be found to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis”.
* Read the 2010 report ‘Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects’ in full, please visit our website.
** Months before the Iraq War in 2003, Oxford Research Group published a report, ‘Iraq: Consequences of a War’, also by Professor Paul Rogers, that warned of high civilian casualties, the development of an insurgency, increased support for al-Qaida and widespread anti-Americanism, if the war went ahead.